Saturday 28 March 2015

REVIEW: Personal by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)Personal by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who has read all of Reacher's adventures to date I would class this book as a classic Reacher romp. It is not the best, nor the worst of Lee Child's works. Interestingly, it was an easier read than some of the more recent books because, for no reason I know of, Child has decided to go back to Reacher's roots and write this one in first person. It works well and I have always pined for the first person perspective of Killing Floor. It gives an immediacy to the story-telling that goes well with the almost total lack of internal dialogue Reacher has. His thoughts, as usual, only really focus on the nuts and bolts of how things work and how to beat his enemies. Is he a psychopath? A sociopath? Perhaps both? When reading these books the most important thing is not to probe too deeply into either the characterisation or the plot. Neither really stand up to hard scrutiny, but Child does tell a ripping yarn full of technology, espionage, violence and wise-cracks.

In this book, Child manages to steer away from some of the tropes that he has resorted to in most of the previous novels, but he has also made some real clangers in terms of cultural details. It's funny that Child is from England, as he has clearly been living so long in the States now that he is not au fait with all the intricacies of English life. I won't go into details here, but there is mention of buying burner phones in London that was blatantly not true to life.

Overall, a page-turning, unputdownable thriller, starring the inimitable Jack Reacher (not Tom Cruise!).

4.5 stars.

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Tuesday 24 March 2015

THE SERPENT SWORD - Pre-order now!



The following link should get you to your local Amazon site:

It is also available on Goodreads.

At the moment, only the Kindle book is online, but a paperback should be available soon. Watch this space!

Sunday 22 March 2015

REVIEW: The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria by Max Adams

The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of NorthumbriaThe King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria by Max Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Max Adams' book, 'The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria' is a welcome addition to the limited number of books available about 7th century Northumbria. It is well-written and well-researched. My main quibble is the fact that I had hoped to find out a lot more about Oswald, who I was researching for my own writing. The book actually covers the whole century and really only has a handful of chapters dedicated to Oswald specifically, though Adams does make reference to him and his influence in later chapters. However, these references sometimes feel a little forced and oblique, and Adams does seem to have a tendency to make a conclusion via deduction and then state it in a matter of fact way, as if there could be no other interpretation of events. Considering there are very limited primary sources for the period, this approach felt somewhat contrived.

However, these are minor points. All in all the book's style is engaging, and the overall history of the north of Britain in that troubled century is illuminated in the spotlight of modern research and archaeology.

4 stars.

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