Thursday 21 July 2016

New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey - A Review

Part Science Fiction, Part Fantasy, part Thriller, this all adds up to one heck of a ride. The fact that this is the author's first novel makes it even more impressive.

The general gist of the story is that NovusPart, a large energy company have discovered a new technology that allows them to bring matter from the past to 'the now'. They have started by bringing citizens from Pompeii (hey, it's not a spoiler, the clue is in the title) forward and housing them in the replica New Pompeii. They do not know they have left 'original' Pompeii but some are starting to guess something is not quite right. Into the mix comes our hero Nick Houghton, research ,student, who is brought in as NovusPart's Historical Advisor. His actual recruitment seems a tad shady but he is just happy to be a part of something this big.

As a second story strand Kirsten Chapman 'wakes' in her bath only to discover she has been murdered.

As a general rule I am not a big fan of 'Michael Chrichtonesque' Sci-Fi Thrillers but New Pompeii certainly changed my mind on that. The way the author described both New Pompeii and it's occupants felt believable. It felt very much like seeing it through Nick's eyes which, for this reviewer is just how it should be.

The 'Kirsten' chapters added a lot of mystery to the proceedings. It is obvious her 'death' had a big part to play in the storyline but right up to the reveal I wasn't sure just what it would be.

If I had to find a downside to things it would just be my ignorance of historical terms, which I had to look up sometimes (but, hey, I've learnt stuff now so not that much of a downside really)

As for the characters - Nick was nerdish, Kirsten puzzled and the big chiefs of NovusPart just the right shade of 'big business sinister'. They all worked well for me.

I enjoyed this book a heck of a lot and wouldn't be surprised to see it on beaches and in airports all summer. Will it be filmed? Of that I have no idea but somebody, somewhere should take a chance on it (Oh, if only Mr. Spielberg read my blog)

Full marks to Daniel Godfrey for a very interesting and fun read - V/V stars

Sunday 10 July 2016

Oddjobs by Heide Goody and Iain Grant - A Review

The Apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it, is coming............

It will happen this Friday.........

In Birmingham (UK)

(unless new girl Morag Murray and colleagues can prevent it)

That is the general premise in this latest comedy horror/crime novel, the first in a new series, from Clovenhoof creators Goody and Grant. There is a secret government agency whose job is keeping the general populace unaware of the threat by the other-worldly Venislarn and Morag is starting her first day with them having been transferred from the Edinburgh branch after an 'incident'

As with the Clovenhoof books (of which I am a big fan) there is a lot going on in this book - wannabe amphibian gangster chavs, telepathic curry, an upstairs neighbour with way too many cats, fish porn, Ancient Gods and that aforementioned Apocalypse (due Friday) but it 'doesn't feel like a busy book. Considering all that is happening the story is well paced and holds together really well. The Venislarn are all kinds and varieties of grotesque, Morag and her colleagues range from cute and slightly ditzy to super serious and the side characters are a comedic delight. Also, as a setting, the city of Birmingham works really well

How would I describe the style of the book? Let's just say that if Tom Holt and Robert Rankin sat down to discuss writing a book with H P Lovecraft I think they would be more than happy to come up with something half as good as this. I hope Oddjobs brings Goody and Grant the success they deserve and look forward to more in this series.

Oddjobs was an absolute delight - 10/10

Saturday 2 July 2016

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames - A Review

This novella (94 pages) dropped through my letter box yesterday morning. As is usually the case with Pushkin Vertigo books, the blurb made it sound really promising. It is now 5 hours or so since I finished it and I still don't quite know how I feel about it.

The story is a fairly straightforward one - the daughter of a senator has been taken and put into the sex trade, he has a lead and hires Joe, ex Marine, ex FBI to get her back. The thing is, Joe has seen things that have left him damaged. He is the typical 'hero type', loner, broken, violent and his back story explains the reasoning behind his ways quite well. I think the problem I had was that the story was too short and could have been easily expanded a little. Also, Joe, as flawed as he is, comes across as a bit of a psychopath at times and by his final actions here seems to be on a darker path that probably will not end well for him, but we may never know as the story ends with the job only half done.

Good points - punchy prose, brutal violence and a lead character that could carry a series (apparently it is soon to be a feature film starring Joaquin Phoenix).

Bad points - the story felt too short and ended too abruptly with the job only partly done, almost as if this is just a teaser trailer for the main event to come

3/5* - I enjoyed it enough but felt slightly cheated at the final page