Saturday, June 21, 2008

The New James Bond and other thrillers

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
Bond is back! I was intrigued by this book because I'm a James Bond fan, though of the movies, not the books, and because Faulks is a fine writer. His novel Birdsong is one of the best WWI novels around, and my book discussion group read On Green Dolphin Street which is set in the Cold War period. There are aspects of that book that still haunt me.
I couldn’t wait to find out what Faulks would do with the popular hero, and he does Bond proud. Thriller readers may find it a little slow to start, but once the action takes off, it's terrific. I loved his characterization of Bond, and the ending left me smiling with satisfaction.
I read in the Times of London that a lot of diehard Bond fans are disappointed by the book, but my advice would be to lighten up and enjoy it!
Interview with Sebastian Faulks in the London Sunday Times

In the Woods by Tana French

Dublin detective Rob Ryan & his partner investigate the disappearance
& murder of a 12-year-old girl. Twenty years earlier, Ryan and two friends
disappeared in the same woods. Ryan reappeared days later with blood
in his shoes and no memory of what happened. No trace of his friends
was ever found. Ryan is certain the cases are linked. This is an excellent
police thriller. Some parts of it were so creepy that when I was at home alone reading it I found myself looking over my shoulder. French won the Edgar Award for the best first novel for this book.
The Likeness, the sequel to In the Woods is due out in July ’08.
Edgar Award Nominees and Winners

The Accident Man by Tom Cain
Samuel Carver is a hired assassin (but he only kills REALLY BAD people!) who contracts for a hit on (he thinks) a terrorist. He later finds out he was set up, and his actions caused the accident that killed Princess Diana.
This is a fair to middling thriller. It's departs from the thriller model by having bad things happen to the hero, who at the end is pretty much a mess. I think perhaps the author left the hero in such a bad state because he's planning a sequel. The book definitely came through with exciting action, although there was too much sappy romance for my taste. I will happily read the sequel, if there is one, because I want to find out how the protagonist gets his revenge.

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
This quirky novel belongs to that genre called "literary thrillers" and is cram-jammed full of sub-plots, deceptions, stories within
stories, double crosses, movie lore, Russian mobsters, Jewish gangsters, an
ex-con priest,’s dizzying but fun. Jake Mishkin, who narrates, is a
philandering but charming intellectual property lawyer. The plot revolves
around the search for the manuscript of a lost Shakespeare play – written
in the bard’s own hand. It’s incredibly complicated and silly at times and totally addictive. Gruber's latest is The Forgery of Venus.

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