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Patricia Highsmith ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1955)

‘In Dickie’s eyes Tom saw nothing more now than he would have seen if he had looked at the hard, bloodless surface of a mirror.’ Patricia Highsmith is one of those writers so widely lauded that I felt embarrassed admitting I’d not read any of her books. Until now, the closest I got was on film … Continue reading

On reviews good, bad and ugly

A couple of articles caught my eye in recent days, both concerning unfavourable reviews of books. The first is from the writer’s POV; except rather than shrugging off the criticism novelist Kathleen Hale used it as a reason to start stalking the unfortunate blogger who happened to dislike her latest book. I read the article … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 7: ‘Lady Killer’ (1958)

Lady Killer sees Ed McBain playing with some of his genre’s conventions, resulting in a crime novel that in some respects is as mannered as an Agatha Christie country-house murder. But there’s more humour and humanity in a McBain, and Lady Killer remains as readable as it was when first published nearly 50 years ago. I yomped … Continue reading

Henry Marsh, ‘Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery’ (2014)

‘I often have to cut into the brain, and it is something I hate doing.‘ Henry Marsh’s  memoir about his life as a neurosurgeon is a remarkable read, albeit one that requires a certain steadiness of gut. Be advised: whilst delivered in Marsh’s cool, precise prose, the descriptions of surgery – what Marsh calls ‘controlled … Continue reading

On ‘True Detective’, ‘The Pledge’ & the passing of time

‘Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. You have to be careful what you get good at.‘ This is primarily a blog about books, but I feel compelled to say a few words about the TV series True Detective. Thanks to my local library (they don’t do just books, you know…), I’ve just worked … Continue reading