Book Review: No Wrong Turns by Chris Pountney

Yet again, I torture myself with travel writing. This is the first book about Chris Pountney’s attempt to travel around the world on his bike, with boats being the only other acceptable vehicle choice. There are no planes, trains or automobiles, because apparently quite a few cycle tourists will use the other modes on their travels. Pountney is going to cycle the whole thing, and not just in a convenient loop, nope, one of the other goals he sets himself is to cycle through 100 countries, leading him on a twisting, winding route across the world which sometimes sees him double back on himself.

This tells the first part of his journey, from Paris to Sydney, and it frequently made my feet itch. Cycle touring sounds damn appealing, a nice way to really see the day to day life of a country and culture. Of course, I doubt WoM would be up for this style of roughing it, and there’s also the pesky problem of not being able to ride a bike.

pountney no wrong turns

Pountney’s journey is a fascinating one, with him providing commentary on the different countries he passes through and picking up on cultural differences. Throughout the book there’s a constant theme of human kindness, with Pountney being offered food and shelter along the way, along with small interactions with friendly, helpful locals. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however, and Pountney shows the rougher side of life on the road- scammers, dangerous drivers, rude people and the unwelcoming.

It’s one of these dark patches that provides one of the biggest emotional punches of the book. On a road in Mongolia, a country which seems in the grips of a vast alcholism problem, Pountney witnesses a horrific car crash. He attempts to help but has to contend with apathy from the other bystanders and one hysterical helper who does more to hinder him. Pountney’s writing captures the chaos of the scene and he doesn’t shy away from the mental aspect, discussing the way the incident affected him. It’s here that the loneliness of his trip comes into sharp focus, and you feel for this man alone in a country where he can’t communicate how distressed and shaken he has been left.

Pountney is an honest writer in terms of his emotions, he confesses his fears and doubts, reflects on the moments when he was tempted to jack it in. A decision at a border crossing may seem minor and trivial, but he does a good job of making readers see just how important it is and what it means to him. It helps that he’s an incredibly likeable and funny narrator, capturing vivid caricatures of the people he meets and making little asides. I particularly liked the recurring motifs of his talking bike and his fantasies of what the film version of his trip would be like. Who hasn’t daydreamed about who would play them in a movie? (Nick Frost, if they de-age him, or Seth Rogen, if he puts weight back on. Personally I favour an animated movie, where I’m voiced by Samuel L Jackson).

There are a few points where I was a little exasperated by him, however. There’s his view of other travellers and tourists, which seems a bit smug, but I guess having been in the dark corners of countries he can see the fabrication in the more popular areas. It still seems a bit condescending to me. And there’s his constant quest for female company, which is a recurring theme.

It just gets a bit tiresome hearing a guy daydreaming about meeting beautiful women. I mean, we all do it, but keep it to yourself.

But the relationship side does give the book a bit of heart. There’s an early relationship with and old friend which is destined to be short lived, and a more optimistic ending, when a girl he meets on his travels decides to fly out and join him for a while in Australia, where he plans to stop and work to raise funds for the second half, which I will be downloading on my Kindle in the very near future.

All in all, it’s a fun, easy read about one man’s journey which gives you a humorous, personal insight into various countries and, for me at least, makes you wish you could just hit the road yourself.

8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin

Five years.

I’ve been waiting five years for George R. R. Martin to release the next instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I reread the whole series thus far last year, as I’d heard rumours that book 6, The Winds of Winter, was due out in 2018. It never appeared. Instead, we got this book, which is set in Westeros, but doesn’t continue the story, giving more background and history. But, so desperate for some new material I seized upon it.

fireandblood martin

This book tells the first part of the history of the Targaryen dynasty, spanning over a hundred years of fictional history. It begins with Aegon I using his dragons to conquer and unite the Seven Kingdoms, before going on to tell the stories of his successors and their reigns on the Iron Throne. Martin brings us right up to the beginning of the reign of Aegon III, who takes the Throne as he turns 16, relieving his regents of the task.

I quite enjoyed this book and it’s hard not to admire the sheer depth and scope of the world that Martin has created. As he crafts this history he manages to create fascinating stories and subplots, interesting moments and asides which create a sense of a rich and detailed universe.

But the style used, a history crafted by a character within the world, robs the reader of some of Martin’s best traits as writer. It lacks the immediacy and gripping edge of the other novels. One of the best features of ASOIAF is that Martin brings everything down to the ground, shifting perspective between a group of characters to really engage the human aspect in a world of magic and monsters. The changing perspectives also challenge reader attitudes and ideas of good and bad, creating a world of shifting sympathies, complex characters and infinite shades of grey.

While there are some moments of ambiguity here, the story is more straightforward and as interesting as the stories are they’re told in a detached manner. It’s a pity as some of the events and characters here would have made for great novels in their own right, instead of being minor elements here. I had this impression when I read The Princess and the Queen last year, and that tale is reprinted here, but there are other parts which you wish he had delved deeper into.

That being said, there are plenty of great stories here and Martin continues to eschew romanticism, injecting brutal reality and grim cynicism into proceedings. There are even moments of black humour.

I especially like that it reads like a real history, with the narrator debating the sources he has to work with, comparing different versions of the stories and posing different theories for the actions of the players involved.

It’s a decent read, but I couldn’t help feeling that I would have preferred Martin not to have bothered and cracked on with the Winds of Winter instead, oh, well, hopefully it arrives in 2019.

Verdict: It’s a solid and fascinating work, but the style hampers Martin and it feels like a missed opportunity, like brief summaries of novels you wish he’d write. Still, it entertains and the scale is impressive. I’ll  definitely read part two. A helpful dose of Westeros for his fans as they await the next novel. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Favourite Books of 2018

That time of year, when I look back over the previous year and pick my favourite things. We’re starting with books. I read quite a few new books this year, so here is my top ten, divided, as ever, into fiction and nonfiction.

Nonfiction

5. The Panther in My Kitchen by Brian Blessed

The legendary actor recounts his misadventures with the animals he has known during his life. All are told with gusto and enthusiasm, and you can hear Blessed’s booming voice in your head throughout. Endearingly eccentric. Review here.

s-l300.jpg

4. I’m Sorry, I Love You by Jim Smallman

Smallman provides an entertaining, funny and insightful look into the history of professional wrestling, detailing the evolution and challenges faced by the business and the weird and wonderful characters who have taken part in sports entertainment. Review.

3. Spike Milligan’s War Memoirs

I read the first two parts this year, and while the first was definitely stronger both are hilarious, with Milligan delivering amusing anecdotes and a steady stream of quips and gags. One man’s war told in a vivid and hugely enjoyable way, will be reading more of the series next year. Reviews of Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall here and “Rommel?” “Gunner who?”.

IMG_20180425_145137_334.jpg

2. Encounters with Animals and Menagerie Manor by Gerald Durrell

Durrel’s writing is filled with warmth and charm, and his enthusiasm and love for nature is infectious. Both of these books are delights, one dealing with animals in the wild and the other his misadventures in running his own zoo. Wonderful stuff.

1. The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

A beautiful and poignant memoir of a unique experience, Bauby’s writings, completed while he lay in his hospital bed, trapped within his own body is a poetic, moving and oddly inspiring example of the strength of the human mind and the power of memory and imagination. Review.

divingbell

Fiction

5. The 87th Precinct Series by Ed McBain

A perennial favourite, I read three of the series this year and they continue to entertain me, as McBain is a master of the crime thriller. The three were Like Love, the gripping mystery Ten Plus One and the short, sharp story of Ax.

4. Adrian’s Undead Diary Series by Chris Philbrook

I read parts 5-8 this year and thoroughly enjoyed the build up to the major conflict, and Philbrook’s ability to craft a detailed and involving zombie apocalypse, mainly through the eyes of his loud mouthed narrator. The story goes in some interesting directions and the spiritual and mystical aspects of the story set it apart from most zombie stories. Highly recommend. Reviews 5, 6, 7 and 8.

philbrook cassie aud

3. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman brings his wit to bear on the Norse myths, retelling the stories of Odin, Thor and Loki in entertaining, clever prose. A real delight. Review here.

2. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Eames writes a fun fantasy adventure which infuses a world of sword and sorcery with the spirit of rock and roll. Fantastic read, and can’t wait to read more of Eames’ work. Review.

kingsofthewyld eames

1.  14 by Peter Clines

Clines writes a gripping and chilling supernatural thriller as the residents of an LA apartment block start to investigate the weirdness of the building and discover a long hidden secret which could change the world. An utter delight of a book where Clines slowly builds unease and oddness towards a big reveal which doesn’t disappoint. Review.

clines 14

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Adventureman by Jamie McDonald

I can’t remember when or why I downloaded this book onto my Kindle, but I’m glad I did, as Jamie McDonald’s story of his epic run across Canada is a charming and inspiring tale.

mcdonald adventureman

As a young child, Jamie was beset with serious health problems and at one point it was doubtful that he would be able to walk again. Incredibly, he would not only recover but confound expectations, and as an adult, to repay the children’s hospitals which had helped him he began undergoing massive fundraising efforts.

Having cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester and set the world record for longest time on a static bike (268 hours) and then he undertook this intense challenge. He would run from the East coast of Canada to the West, travelling 5000 miles, around 200 marathons back to back.

The sheer scale of the challenge itself is impressive enough, and I couldn’t help marvel at the determination, strength of will and optimism that McDonald displays. He raised thousands of pounds for children’s hospitals in both Canada and the UK, and understandably, his story has inspired many.

McDonald writes with a simple, conversational tone, capturing the harsh elements and challenges he faces along the way. There are bouts of loneliness and mental struggles in keeping going, but thanks to the support of countless Good Samaritans along the way, and his own spirit, he keeps going regardless.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, charmed by the affable Jamie and hugely inspired by his fundraising work and enthusiasm for helping others. This is a book that restores your faith in humanity, highlighting the selflessness, kindness and heroism that people display at their best.

It’s understandable that Jamie is viewed as a real life superhero, it’s hard to argue that his endurance and achievements don’t border on the superheroic. And the idea of adopting his own alter ego is charming and clever, helping to raise his profile.

Jamie continues his good work through the Superhero Foundation and is currently running across the US. You can follow his progress online, via his Twitter and I am currently doing that, and planning to donate come payday. He’s also inspired me to try my own bigger fundraising event next year, although mine won’t be as physically demanding.

Verdict: An inspiring and wonderful story of one man’s heroism and endurance. Lovely stuff. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Ax by Ed Mcbain

I returned to the 87th Precinct and was treated to a short, sharp detective story as Detectives Carella and Hawes try to solve a brutal murder. The elderly janitor is found in the basement  of the building where he works, the victim of a brutal attack with an axe.

mcbain ax

Love the weirdness of the cover on the top left

The detectives struggle to find a motive for the vicious attack, and several possibilities run to dead ends. Is it connected to his mentally unstable wife? Or the small-time gambling that goes on in the building?

I think this is the shortest of the 87th Precinct cases so far, told in ten punchy chapters. McBain has stripped the story right back, there are no subplots or personal dramas this time around, just this one murder case that the cops have to slog through. The writing fizzes with McBain’s dark humour, poetic flashes and flair for dialogue and characterisation.

Despite the short format he still succeeds in injecting depth to his supporting characters and builds the case slowly, dropping little clues along the way which only really come together at the end. It’s also really interesting that this is a case of murder for extremely minor motivations, the brutality of the killing wholly disproportionate to the reasons behind it.

A quick read which grips you early on and doesn’t let go this is a fun, fast addition to the series.

Verdict: McBain’s skill isn’t diminished by the shorter style and this is a great quick read. Solid work from a master of the crime novel. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Why I Write by George Orwell

I’ve read a fair amount of George Orwell’s nonfiction work over the last couple of years, and been really impressed with his writing. Unfortunately, this collection of four essays was a bit of a disappointment.

orwell write

The eponymous essay that kicks off the book is decent enough, as Orwell discusses how he wanted to be a writer from a young age, and how writers are motivated by the same urges, regardless of what they write. He talks about how his writing became more political, and how politics play a part in every writer’s work at some level. It’s an interesting insight and break down of his career up until this point in 1946.

The second part is “The Lion and the Unicorn”, where Orwell reflects on England and the English. He discusses his belief of what constitutes the English national character and his attitudes towards it. Written during the early years of the Second World War it also includes commentary about the inter-war years, British politics and the ineptitude of the ruling class.

The problem is, that it all peaks far too early. Beginning with the sensational opening line “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.” it never captures that level again, while there are some nice observations it’s all rather long winded and I found it hard going. It also feels like a commentary on a society that I don’t recognise, these aren’t universal truths on show but rather a snapshot of a social order which was never completely the same after the war.

I think the problem with this essay is that Orwell is rather too engrossed in analysis and commentary, and it loses the personal level that runs through his best work. In fact, my favourite of the pieces is “A Hanging”, which tells of an execution in Burma, where Orwell served as a police officer. While Orwell once described it as “only a story”, he would have witnessed executions and there’s an air of reality which is hard to shake. The short, stark piece captures the way this terrible event has adopted a certain formality and monotony, but also the impact it has on the officers involved. It’s powerfully evocative and definitely the stand out.

On the whole I found this book a bit of a dud. While “A Hanging” is superb the other pieces have only brief moments that landed for me, and some I found rather drawn out and hard to engage with. Perhaps I’m just not in the right head space at the moment, but this is the first time since my failed attempts at 1984 that I’ve been left cold by Orwell’s writing, “A Hanging” aside.

Verdict: Two of the four essays are average, one is a chore and only “A Hanging” really worked for me. Orwell’s intelligence is on show, but he loses his way and it lacks the small, personal edge that is one of my favourite things about his writing. 4/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

I quite like Dan Brown’s novels, they’ve consistently proven to be entertaining, fast paced thrillers. And this book, the first entry in the Robert Langdon series shows that Brown got his formula down early.

angels brown

We’re introduced to Langdon as a quiet, slightly quirky, Harvard professor specialising in “symbology”. In the middle of the night he gets a desperate phone call and is faxed a gruesome crime scene photo depicting a man branded with the long lost Illuminati brand. The Illuminati being a secret brotherhood of influential scientists who wish to destroy the Catholic church for it’s persecution and smothering of previous scientific thought. Langdon, an expert on the group, is sceptical, as the group is thought long dead.

A short super-jet flight later and Langdon is at the CERN facility in Switzerland. The dead man is a scientist and Catholic priest, and it transpires that he was killed so that his lab could be accessed and his antimatter stolen. The antimatter has massive possibilities as an energy source but due to it’s instability is highly destructive if it interacts with matter. The antimatter is only stable for 24 hours.

Langdon and the dead scientist’s adopted daughter, Vittoria Vetra, also a scientist, are then whisked to the Vatican where the antimatter has been hidden. The Illimuniati plan to allow the clock to run out, destroying the church’s spiritual home and killing the higher ranks of the church as all the cardinals are gathered in conclave to elect a new Pope. The killer taunts them, stating that he has kidnapped the four most likely candidates and will kill one every two hours, and leave their bodies in a public place, each branded with one of the Illuminati brands for one of the elements.

Langdon works out that the bodies will be left in churches along the “Path of Illumination”, a secret route that will be revealed by clues in order to guide potential Illuminati members to the group’s lair. But the path remains a mystery all these centuries later, the Illuminati base having never been discovered.

Can Langdon and Vetra crack the code and trace the path? Will they be able to save the cardinals? Can the antimatter be found and removed in time? And with the Illuminati having infiltrated the Vatican so deeply, who can they trust? And is this really the work of an ancient cult, or is there more going on?

The plot is delightfully far-fetched, and Brown keeps the action moving quickly as the story unfolds. The ticking clock aspect is an easy way to add tension, but it works and the clues all hang together, although it is stretching credibility that the clues needed, often statues, would still all be intact and in place after hundreds of years.

Langdon makes an engaging lead character, caught out of his depth and torn between exhilaration and horror. Thrown into an adventure a world away from his life as a professor, Brown ensures that the character never becomes an irritating Mary Sue, stumbling along the way and relying on luck and others in some instances. He’s given enough foibles and fears to ensure he remains sufficiently average to be an engaging hero.

The only problem is that for me the book included a few too many twists in the later stages, and while a couple work quite well, there’s a certain point where it’s almost laughable. It doesn’t help that a couple of the twists are easy to spot and for me the penny dropped several times before the big reveals.

The ending as a whole felt a little flat and too neat, with all the loose ends tied up extremely quickly, or merely ignored. Reputations have been ruined, murders committed and yet there’s a “they all lived happily ever after” vibe that doesn’t ring true.

That aside this is still a decent read, the kind of thriller you can easily lose yourself on and Brown doesn’t slow down enough for you to really appreciate the daftness of some of the plot points. Very entertaining, and good fun.

Verdict: Too many twists and some predictable turns derail it slightly in the closing stages, but for the most part Brown succeeds in crafting the kind of easy, engaging thriller that provides a fun way to pass the time. It gripped me early on and the pace meant I never lost interest. Solid. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but I added it to my wishlist and friend came through and got me a copy. It had been reviewed favourably and it sounded like my kind of thing. And when I finally sat down to read it I instantly fell in love with Eames’ writing style and characters.

kingsofthewyld eames

The book is set in a fantasy world filled with magic and monsters, but steps away from the usual traps of sword and sorcery by injecting a hefty dose of humour and the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. In this world the heroes are mercenaries who take care of monster problems, these mercs often work in groups called bands, and they are the rock stars of the world, with excess, showmanship and groupies all thrown in.

Nineteen years ago one of the greatest bands was Saga, known as the Kings of the Wyld for their heroics within the Wyld, a dense, dangerous forest filled with beasts, plants and weather that can kill. But eventually the group went their separate ways and grew old. Clay Cooper, one of the band lives a simple life as a city watchman with his family and hopes to open an inn, having put aside his violent past. One day his former bandmate Gabriel arrives at his door pleading for help, his daughter, Rose, has followed in his footsteps and has become a mercenary, but is now in grave danger. Having signed up to fight a monstrous horde she is now one of the survivors besieged in a far off city, Outside the gates is gathered the largest monster army ever seen, and between them and the rest of the world is the Wyld. Sooner or later food will run out, or the enemy will breach the walls. There is no escape from death.

Reluctantly Clay joins Gabriel and they set off, hoping to get the band back together and go rescue Rose. But the band are scattered and living different lives. Their wizard is obsessed with finding a cure for the disease that killed his husband, one of their group has gone from thief to warrior to king, having married a princess they rescued on an earlier adventure, and the final, and deadliest, member is imprisoned and may be harbouring a grudge against his old friends.

Can they reunite Saga? If they do can five ageing fighters really hope to cross the peril filled woods? And what difference can five make against an army?

This book is amazing, with Eames having a real knack for creating a collection of charming rogues and a vibrant, interesting world for them to live in. Told from the perspective of Clay we see the world through the eyes of a minor player, a regular guy swept up into a greater event and forced to return to the violence he struggled to leave behind. Clay is the sensible heart of the group, violent but fiercely loyal and stubborn. Often equipped with nothing more than his trusty shield he relies on a combination of brute force, dumb luck and his wits in the face of constant peril.

The fight scenes have a real sense of adventure and fun, often accompanied by Clay’s humorous observations. And there’s a nice subversion of some of the genre conventions, with the fights being chaotic, haphazard affairs and a distinct lack of noble posturing.

The beasts are savage, the enemies menacing and the whole book fizzes with energy, I flew through the pages and Eames never lets the pace sag. That’s not to say that he doesn’t inject emotions into the mix, with there being a touching side to the group, an old school, unspoken bond between them. Clay is shown to have greater depths than his stoic exterior suggests, and a keen observer of those around him. There’s also his fear of losing himself to his own inner monster and urge to do good, which make him a likeable and identifiable character, as surely everyone has negative aspects and urges they have to fight against.

The rock and roll aspect allows for plenty of little nods and gags. I liked that Clay is given the same nickname as Eric Clapton, although he is dubbed Slowhand because he never seems to land the first punch in any fight. And there’s a nice running gag about Saga’s ill-fated bards which reminded me of Spinal Tap’s poor luck with drummers.

The sword and sorcery genre can take itself too seriously at times, but Eames’ use of humour and fast paced action makes this a great entry to the genre and a hugely entertaining read. There are similarities with the works of other writers (George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett), but this is it’s own book and I really hope that we get more from him, especially if they feature more of Saga’s adventures.

Verdict: Eames creates a really involving world and group of characters, and tells a simple story in a hugely entertaining way. It’s rare for an author to nail humour, action and emotion quite so well, and I recommend this to anyone who likes their fantasy with a bit of humanity. Great fun. 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


Book Review: Menagerie Manor by Gerald Durrell

Having really enjoyed Encounters With Animals, I was eager to read more of Durrell’s work and they were added to my mental wish list, and in a happy coincidence I discovered this book on a charity shop shelf and had to buy it.

The book concerns Durrell’s observations and misadventures while running his zoo in Jersey. I’ve actually been to this zoo, many years ago and I remember it being fantastic, with a real emphasis on conservation and breeding, it’s still in my top 3 zoos (along with Longleat and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

durrell menagerie

Durrell captures the challenges and difficulties of keeping animals, but there seems to be very little regret and, just as some books get the feet itching, this book made me long for a menagerie of my own. Durrell’s humour, warmth and obvious affection for the animals in his care remains utterly charming and his descriptions of various creatures and the problems they cause are entertaining and lively. He gives the animals character and captures their idiosyncrasies well, giving a sense of each beast and their stories are uniformly endearing.

Originally published in 1964 it shows Durrell’s forward thinking, his desire that zoos should serve to create breeding colonies to protect endangered species is a practice that continues today and has helped keep some species going where otherwise they would have joined the dodo.

For anyone with a love of animals this is a joyous read, as we get to see an insight into animal behaviour and habits, but in a light and amusing manner. While his writing fosters admiration for the animals, it also does the same for our narrator, and I found myself liking Durrell even more. His writing is thoroughly charming and captivating, and it made me want to quit my job and get a gig as a wildlife ranger or something.

Wonderful.

Verdict: Funny, warm and delightful. 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

I’m not entirely sure what I make of this book, aside from the fact that it’s rather dark. I remember Nesbo was a big deal during the Scandi-noir boom a few years ago, and he’s been on my radar for a while, but this tome has sat on my shelf for months. I finally got it down, and it was very much a mixed bag.

nesbo snowman

Full disclosure, however, I didn’t know when I started that this is the seventh in a series, so it is possible that my issues with the protagonist may be because Nesbo is writing assuming that readers are familiar with Harry Hole, his alcoholic copper. The problem is that Hole is never that engaging, he’s clever and I didn’t want him to fall off the wagon, but I couldn’t say much more about him and the alkie cop seems a bit cliche.

This novel follows Hole having to deal with several issues, a new junior officer, the fact his lover is moving on and the fact that a serial killer is on the prowl, this killer named the Snowman has been kidnapping women for years, every time the first snow falls. The pattern has previously gone unnoticed, but now Hole is on the case. Can he uncover the identity of the Snowman? Who can he trust? And can he defeat his inner demons?

We’ll start with the good news, in places this is an intensely gripping and tense thriller, with the case slowly revealing itself and some nerve jangling moments as our killer stalks his victims. The last hundred or so pages are fantastic, the tension building and all the pieces falling into place transforms this section into a sprint, and I devoured page after page as I wanted to see what happened.

The problem is that this is the opposite of the early stages, where Nesbo shuffles different time periods to establish the different strands of the book. Admittedly, it didn’t help that I didn’t pay enough attention to the chapter headings and confused myself, but it still feels a little stilted. Similarly, while a red herring is always welcome, Nesbo throws far too much in the mix and there are a few too many connections for it to hang together comfortably. One coincidence or secret link springing up is one thing, having them blossom all around is something else.

That being said, he does tie up a lot of the little clues he drops in well enough and, after a slow start, it did hold my attention, but his hero feels a little weak, his alcoholism standing in for actual personality.

Verdict: A solid enough thriller, but there’s a bit too much going on and the protagonist isn’t that interesting. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.