For the fifth in my series of posts in which I bring you the short capsule reviews I used to write pre-blog. I’m turning my attention to some novels that didn’t quite make the grade this time. This batch are all from 2007 or earlier.
The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun
The 28th (!) in this popular series, but first that I’ve read. As the small town of Pickax (really!) gets ready to celebrate its 150th birthday, some odd things happen and Koko the Siamese cat has his cat radar working overtime; owner and local journo Jim has to make sense of it all …
A relentlessly upbeat and folksy, whimsical, sort of whodunnit, with too many plot threads to elucidate successfully in its 210 wide-spaced pages. Jim Quilleran, the moustachioed lead with his two Siamese cats is immensely likeable, but ofttimes irritating with his habit of spouting off the cuff limericks. Other characters are sketchy – I couldn’t picture his girlfriend Polly at all. Maybe I should read a couple of the earlier installments … or maybe not. (5/10) [This was the 28th of 29 in the series, originally published in 2006]
The Man with the Dancing Eyes by Sophie Dahl
Naturally, I was hoping that the Dahl magic would have rubbed off on his granddaughter. I read this very short story in 15 minutes. It was sweet, naive, a little surreal and utterly slight. The illustrations by Annie Morris are quirky and suit the story well – enabling it to be padded out to a slim hardback with few words on each page.
I’m glad I paid just £1 for it in a charity shop – whence it has returned. (3/10)
[Book first published 2003]
Derailed by Charles Siegel
Charles meets and falls for a woman on the train … but their tryst goes very wrong. They’re robbed at gunpoint and the woman is raped. They don’t tell as they’re both married. Later the robber/rapist adds blackmail and Charles goes off the rails to sort it out before his wife finds out …
Fairly standard stuff until about halfway through when the twists and turns really start happening, but they’re mostly well telegraphed. We’re meant to sympathise with the would-be adulterer Charles because his daughter is on dialysis, but that didn’t work for me!
Dead Even by Brad Meltzer
I found Dead Even quite the opposite – rather lumpy in fact.
I found it hard to believe that once it became clear that the case in question was more than a simple burglary, that husband and wife lawyers would still be allowed to face each other across the courtroom. New prosecutor Sarah, who was the most interesting character, appeared to have amazing luck, picking up a seasoned assistant and one of the department’s best as a mentor within the first day or so at her new job. However hubby Jared was so wet – it must have been a case of opposites attract. Most of the dialogue was awfully corny, yet I did enjoy the plot for the most part. (5/10)
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
A book group choice we were looking forward to given the hype surrounding this novel – but we were hugely disappointed. Apart from it being too long, we particularly disliked the modern day strand – not caring in the slightest about the characters; the medieval story was better, but only slightly.
Nuff said. (5/10)