SUNNIE'S TOPS AND BOTTOMS
2006

 


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*TOPS

DEADFOLK - Charlie Williams

My find of the year. Wonderful blood-soaked romp through the town of Mangel with Blakey, unreliable narrator par excellence. Slashings, bashings, stranglings, shootings and a chain saw named Susan.

RAVEN BLACK - Anne Cleeves

First in a planned quartet of books set on the Island of Shetland featuring Detective Jimmy Perez. Terrific mystery, engaging characters excellent plot and an examination of life in a small isolated community. Doesn't get much better than that.

ROUNDING THE MARK - Andrea Camilleri

Inspector Montalbano series . Set in Sicily. A bunch of quirky characters. Sly, slightly macabre sense of humour and wonderful mystery.

IN A DARK HOUSE - Deborah Crombie

British police procedural written by a US author. Flawless setting and likeable characters. Nicely complex mystery with gradual unravelling and putting together of the right clues in the right place. Ending slightly anti-climactic, but not enough to take it off the tops list for me.

THE NAMING OF THE DEAD - Ian Rankin

Murder set around the 2005 G8 summit in Edinburgh. I don't think it was quite as good as many of Rankin's previous, but it's still a damn good read.

DI Rebus is starting to think about retirement and his body is starting to give out a bit. Is Rankin preparing his readers for the exit of Rebus?

*Honourable Mentions.

GOOD MURDER - Robert Gott

Australian author. Set in regional Queensland during WWII. A troop of 3rd rate actors bringing Shakespeare to the hicks in the country. Unreliable narrator with delusions of grandeur. Highly entertaining - deserves a mention for the book's first sentence alone. Be interested to see if the author can sustain the joke and follow it up

CONTACT ZERO - David Woolstencroft

A spy thriller from the creator of the tv series SPOOKS (MI5 in the US). If you've ever seen the series, you'll have an idea about the nicely convoluted twisty tale that Woolstencroft specialises in.

BARKING - Liz Evans

Grace Smith. PI . British. A character you can't help but like and first rate plot.

THE BABY GAME - Randy Hicks

Adoption lawyer. Likeable. Lots of unexpected twists and well plotted.
 

*BOTTOMS

THE MERCY SEAT - Martyn Waites.

British noir, I guess. Unremitting bleakness. Street kids, child porn, murder. Poor teenage Jamal, a rent boy, finds himself being relentlessly chased by nasties who enjoy the job of killing. He's stolen a CD with incriminating evidence. Lots of violence, no humour to lighten the load, and the unluckiest kid in the UK all combined for what was for me a pretty dismal read. Just not my taste.

RIVER DEEP - Priscilla Masters

This made my bottoms list because it had so much potential. A coroner in Shrewsbury. A plot best described as leisurely. At one stage the author takes a break and spends several pages dwelling on an encounter with a good looking man in an antique store which had no bearing on the plot. The book also had what may or may not have been a touch of woo-woo. I don't know as it was never explained.

LABYRINTH - Kate Mosse

Sort of Da Vinci code for intellectuals. A doorstop of a book at 525 pages, I found it hard going. A friend borrowed it mid-year and is still reading it. She picks it up from time to time and then moves on to something else. All of which earned it the nickname of The Housebrick from Hell. Not badly written - it got pretty good reviews, but just too much of it for me.

and now introducing.. (drum roll please)
SUNNIE'S STINKEROO OF 2006!!

CLOSE - MARTINA COLE.

For those familiar with British TV - picture The Eastenders meets the Kray Twins written by Jackie Collins.

500 pages following the lives of an underworld family from the 1960's - 90's. All the familiar stereotypes. Beautiful young teenager with indifferent and sometimes abusive parents meets handsome, charming older man who is a gangster. They marry and have son No1. Handsome and looks like his father. Son No 2. Flabby, weak and creepy. Mum recognises his creepiness the moment he's born. Twin girls - one extrovert the other introvert and mentally unstable. Throw in various violent underworld figures all jostling for position and there you have it. Probably about 200 pages too long. Unnecessary detail in many things and over-long, heavy-handed descriptions of violence negate any impact that violence might have on the reader. The author clearly is familiar with the life but has no subtlety at all. For the full horror of it - my review is at http://www.reviewers-choice.com/close.htm .

 

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