Rough stuff

30 03 2008

Rough Treatment by John Harvey


Really good yarn centred on a pair of smart(ish) crooks who strike lucky when burgling a failing TV producer’s house resulting in an affair with the lady of the house and a kilo of cocaine being held to ransom. The Nottingham setting is compelling and Resnick’s sandwich options, as he moves towards solving the case and failing to sell his house, even more detailed. The critique of the hopeless end of the TV production business is entertainingly damning too.

Still can’t understand why the Resnick novels are hailed for being “the finest police procedurals” when first and foremost they are excellent stories – the procedural stuff seems pretty incidental.

3 star

Living through calligraphy

15 03 2008

The Calligraphers’ Night by Yasmine Ghata

Life, love and loss expressed through the medium of calligraphy during early to mid and late 20th Century Istanbul. A lovely, melancholic and almost poetic work but didn’t quite get there in the end. In the end it felt to me that the author was just trying to force the profundity a bit too hard.


Worth a read though (and a nice contemporary companion to the only other book I’ve read relating to Islamic art and calligraphy, the very wonderful My Name is Red by Orhan Pahnuk.)

3 star

Canadian classic

8 03 2008

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Deptford Trilogy

A really excellent novel which, although clearly lauded on publication nearly 40 years ago, seems to have become rather unfashionable over time. This, the first book in the Deptford Trilogy is narrated by Dunstan Ramsay, a teacher, who recounts his life experiences in an extended epistle to his former Head.

The root of a strange life lies with a snowball incident as a child and the consequences which flow from it for Dunstan, his best friend Percy ‘Boy’ Staunton and Mary Dempster who gives birth prematurely and seems to lose her mind as a result of being hit by the projectile intended for Dunstan. The guilt remains with Ramsay for the rest of his days and influences profoundly the course of his life and the consequences have equally dramatic effects on Boy and Paul Dempster, Mary’s son.

The style is clear and direct but the twisting tale is full of surprises in a shifting landscape. Great stuff – can’t wait to finish the next one.

4 star

Rough and tough

4 03 2008

Lonely Hearts by John Harvey

Lonely Hearts

Really quite enjoyed this. Found the Nottingham setting pretty convincing too. There is a reasonable pace to the story too but it does feel rather rushed at its climax.

It is all extremely reminiscent of Rankin’s Rebus (not entirely clear who came first, Resnick or Rebus) but none the worse for it. Anyway, glad to make his acquaintance and looking forward to the next in the series.

3 star

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