By Ian Urie
Yup, it is that time of year again. Time when we pack our bags, fly off to some hot destination (if we're lucky), lie around, drink too much, take too much sun and, time permitting, read some books.
This year I took two novels with me.
The first was a new author for me. Mark Billingham.
I normally read crime fiction for diversion. Mark was a new author for me, the novel's name is
The Burning Girl.
Billingham writes with a deft style which manages to combine a very human touch while describing appalling violence. I found the book very hard to put down , even though finding the storyline itself very disturbing. The hero, if you can call him that, is Detective Tom Thorne, who's based in London. Tom inhabits a world we can readily recognise from the stories in the news. Without giving too much of the storyline away, it revolves around contract killings, gang wars and an old crime which appears to be getting revisited by a possible copycat. I was so impressed by this novel, I intend to search out more of his books. The Burning Girl is the third in the ongoing series of Tom Thorne novels.If you like gritty realism in very tight prose, this is one of the better authors around. The British settings actually add to the realism of the book. I highly recommend this author to anyone enjoying this genre.
The second book I took.
Patricia Cornwell is one of the very top crime authors and I was really looking forward to this.
I am a great fan of the Kay Scarpetta novels and find them highly entertaining. Unfortunately this isn't a new Scarpetta novel.
I found the book very turgid, and not really all that good at holding my attention. It may well be that the Billingham novel had set too high a standard, but I prefer to believe that Cornwell has simply written a novel as quickly as possible simply to fulfil contractual obligations.
The novel introduces characters never written about before so maybe it is the lack of familiarity that confused me. The book centers around a lot of internal politics of the characters and the fact that it is supposed to be dealing with a “cold crime” using new technology may well be another factor in my dissappointment. I believe the principle character in the book could be very entertaining if expanded upon, but as a first foray, I'm afraid it left me rather cold. I hope for better when her next book is released.
Of course, this is only my opinion, others may find it a very good book.
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