I like detective books and Mark Billingham is an author in this genre that I hadn’t encountered before. “The Bones beneath” features DI Tom Thorne who is ‘baby sitting’ an imprisoned serial killer as he leads the police to a body he buried many years before. The story is set on a small rocky island off the Welsh coast and the author is able to build the sense of isolation as well as the tension. In Stuart Nicklin he is trying to create a ‘Hannibal Lecter’ type character but he falls well short. I enjoyed this book right up to the end which I found unsatisfactory because I like things tied up neat and tidy. Would I read another Mark Billingham book? Yes I probably would but there are many other writers in this genre that I’d choose to read first.
I’ve read several books by Ian McEwan and he really is a brilliant writer. “Saturday” is a day in the life of wealthy Neurosurgeon Henry Perowne who lives a privileged lifestyle with a beautiful family. The book is set in 2003, after the terrorist attacks which changed the world forever and before the war in Iraq. Indeed the day in question is when two million people march in London to protest against the Iraq war. Perowne’s Saturday starts when he wakes early and through his window watches a plane aflame on its descent to Heathrow, his whole routine is then thrown off kilter. What should be a routine day becomes anything but.
Throughout Perwone’s day the reader is given an insight into his musings and we learn his life history and those of his extended family, there is also an unexpected encounter with a character hitherto unknown. All these elements come together in the evening with a family reunion that goes wildly off plan. There is danger here and as a reader I cared about the characters that were literally on a knife edge.
Ian McEwan at his best finds the extraordinary in everyday characters and in “Saturday” he’s at his very best.
Irvine Welsh is probably my favourite writer and I’ve read everything he’s ever published. I didn’t particularly like “Bedroom secrets of the Master Chefs” and “Filth” was a bit too dark for me but I’ve loved pretty much everything else; “Trainspotting” and “Porno” are two of my all time favourite books.
“Sex lives of Siamese twins” is the latest in paperback and is one of his best. Set in Miami it features Lena and Lucy as the two main characters who are not actually conjoined twins but more alike than they realise. Familiar themes from Irvine Welsh; Obsession, addiction, dark humour & darker places, the best and worst of human nature, weird sex, bad language and filthy minds, all are present in abundance. With this story you don’t know where Welsh is going to take you and there are shocks right up to the end. Welsh’s stories often have an uplifting conclusion, sometimes euphoric, “Sex lives…” didn’t quite take me all the way but it came damn close.