Smiling people

30 03 2010

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell

After killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression. He has just decided to leave the police when an old friend approaches him for help investigating his father’s suspicious death. Kurt doesn’t want to know. But then his friend is found shot dead. Against his better judgment, he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. But while Wallander is on the trail of the killer, somebody is on the trail of Wallander, and closing in fast.

It’s pretty good stuff both in terms of plot and in getting into the Wallander psychology and probably the best of the sequence so far. Really rather gripping, extremely atmospheric and captures well the day to day frustrations of both policing and life. This is the first of the Wallander books where I’d seen the Branagh TV adaptation beforehand. Fortunately, the BBC had taken plenty of liberties plot-wise so really not a problem.

Opening doors

23 03 2010

Doors Open by Ian Rankin

For the right man, all doors are open… Mike Mackenzie is a self-made man with too much time on his hands and a bit of the devil in his soul. He is looking for something to liven up the days and perhaps give new meaning to his existence. A chance encounter at an art auction offers him the opportunity to do just that as he settles on a plot to commit a ‘perfect crime’. He intends to rip-off one of the most high-profile targets in the capital – the National Gallery of Scotland. So, together with two close friends from the art world, he devises a plan to a lift some of the most valuable artwork around. But of course, the real trick is to rob the place for all its worth whilst persuading the world that no crime was ever committed. But soon after he enters the dark waters of the criminal underworld he realises that it’s very easy to drown…

Moving on from Rebus was always going to be difficult and you really feel the absence of a compelling central character. Nevertheless, this is a decent yarn straddling different parts, high and low-brow of a fairly familiar Edinburgh. The premise of the art-heist that never was doesn’t seem hugely original but the whole thing is well-executed and with plenty of twists. Not bad and hopefully even better to come.

Art for Art’s Sake: Approximation of a playlist §45

16 03 2010

Art, artists and related concepts

(some a bit tenuous)

Many happy returns – ABC
Pop Muzik – M+S
Sergeant Rock – XTC
Superstition– Stevie Wonder
Say Mama – Gene Vincent
Warwick Avenue – Duffy
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Whistle[r] Down The Wind – Nick Heyward
Everybody Salsa – Modern Romance

Bohemian Like You The Dandy Warhols
Ziggy Stardust – Bauhaus
Ray of Light – Madonna
Blake‘s 7 Theme – The London Theatre Orchestra
Money (That’s What I Want) – Barret Strong
Don’t look back in anger [Ingres] – Oasis
Mona Lisa – Nat King Cole
Andy Warhol – David Bowie
Vincent – Don McLean
Art For Art’s Sake – 10cc

Dog days

9 03 2010

Even the dogs by Jon McGregor

They break down the door at the end of December and carry his body away. On a still and frozen day between Christmas and New Year, a man’s body is found lying in his ruined flat. Found, and then taken away, examined, investigated and cremated. As the state begins its detailed, dispassionate inquest, the man embarks on his last journey through a world he has not ventured into, alive, for years. In his wake, a series of fractured narratives emerge from squats and alleyways across the city: the short and stark story of the man, and of his friends who look on from the shadows, keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage. As they watch, their stories unfurl layer by layer; stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress and the disregard of the wider world. Intense, exhilarating, and shot through with hope and fury, Even the Dogs is an intimate exploration of life at the edges of society; littered with love, loss, despair and a glimpse of redemption.

Terrific new book by an outstanding author. Whilst the subjects and subject matter seem unremittingly grim, nevertheless there is hope and tenderness in places. The details of the daily drudge of drug abuse feel startlingly real and recall the darker passages of Trainspotting. McGregor’s sparse style and brutally sharp prose mean that not a word is wasted. Really excellent and highly recommended.

Camera-derie: Approximation of a playlist §44

2 03 2010

Songs or bands relating to cameras and photography

Glory Box – Portishead
The Reflex – Duran Duran
Smile – Lili Allen
Zoom – Fat Larry’s Band
Hole In My Shoe – Traffic
The Message – Grandmaster Flash
Blinded By The Light – Manfred Mann’s Earthband
Old Red Eyes Is Back – The Beautiful South
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
The first picture of you -Lotus eaters
Life thru a lens – Robbie Williams
Girls On Film Duran Duran
Kodachrome – Paul Simon
Loss of contact – Photos
Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) – A Flock of Seagulls

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