Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Meme - 6 things you didn't realise you wanted know about me (and couldn't be arsed about anyway)

These memes are multiplying at an alarming rate. One day I'll get you for this Karen .

So, six probably quite boring things that you don't really need to know about me, but read on if you've really got nothing else to do:

1. On my very first holiday on my own, a bus trip to Central Australia when I was 19, I earned the nickname 'Horizontal Helen' - and no, not for the reason you're all thinking (get your minds out of the gutter!), but because I'd spend almost the whole time we were travelling in the bus sprawled across 2 seats sleeping. I've always suffered from motion narcolepsy, put me in something moving and I'm gone - luckily this doesn't affect me when I'm actually doing the driving!
2. As a kid I was the biggest tomboy you ever met. I would have sold my soul to be a boy, and it was just so unfair that Mum wouldn't let me go around without a shirt and pee standing up. Then all those girlie hormones kicked in at about 13, and that was that. But I'm still not very girlie.
3. I might be middle aged but I still listen to JJJ, and buy and download current rock, indie and alternative music. The word eclectic was invented for my music collection. *
4. I once worked at the Gas Company transferring all the customer records to automated cards, making lots of little pencil marks that a very primitive computer could read. I lasted 3 months.
5. I'm actually very shy, but people who know me don't believe it.
6. I don't snore, absolutely not, never, it's impossible, and I can't understand why a certain person keeps telling me I do. And furthermore, I absolutely do NOT hog all the bed. **

* 3. (amended) I'm sad old fart who can't quite come to grips with this getting old gig, and am desperately trying to hang on to long lost youth any way I can.
** 6. (amended) I'm deeply self-delusional.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

123 Meme

It seems I've been tagged (gee ta muchly, Karen ).
So here's what I have to do:
  • Pick up the nearest book.
  • Open to page 123.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the next three sentences.
  • Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you in the first place
Ok, nearest book is probably an ARC of Shatter by Michael Robotham which I just found left under my front door mat by our kind and patient postie, and courtesy of the lovely Andrea. But as Karen already did this one, I'll do the next nearest, The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill, my current read.

'What do you think we should do?' Dr Nguyen asked.
'Look, I have to go south for a couple of days. Do you think you could stretch out your official autopsy till I get back?'

I have to say, I'm really loving this book, Siri Paiboun would have to be one of the most original and engaging characters I've ever read.

Now, I'm pretty new to this blogging thing, and don't have that many blogging contacts yet, so the last part of this meme is the hardest bit for me, as it seems everyone I know has already been tagged. I hope nothing dreadful happens to me if I break the chain! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

City of the Sun by David Levien

Publisher: Bantam Press, 2008
ISBN: 978 0 593 05932 6
Pages: 310

Opening sentence: Jamie Gabriel wakes at 5:44, as the clock radio's volume bursts from the silence.

Early one morning 12 year old Jamie Gabriel sets out on his paper round in suburban Indianapolis, and never returns. No trace of him or his bicycle is ever found. The police, believing Jamie is just another runaway, conduct a rather half-hearted investigation.

Fourteen months later his parents, Paul and Carol, their marriage crumbling under the strain, make one last desperate attempt at finding what happened to their son. They hire private investigator, Frank Behr, a tough ex-cop struggling with his own difficult past. Reluctant at first to take on such a seemingly hopeless case, Behr finds the parent’s quiet desperation touches on his own personal pain.

The case takes Behr into the murky world of child prostitution and as he starts making connections between Jamie’s disappearance and some very nasty criminals, he becomes a target himself. But even as the bodies start piling up, Behr just can’t let go.

Jamie’s father, Paul, frustrated by his feelings of helplessness, insists on being involved in the investigation. Against his better judgement, Behr allows Paul to accompany him as he follows leads and interviews contacts. During the longs hours of surveillance, they form an unlikely bond. The moments they share on surveillance and on the road chasing down their quarry are particularly poignant and were a highlight of the book.

Frank Behr could have simply been your typical macho loner PI, ex-cop, broken marriage, drinking problems, and this is certainly how he appeared at first, but he turned out to be so much more. As the case progressed and the layers of his past were uncovered, he was revealed as an interesting and complex character.

The plot is not without faults, for example, it’s hard to believe the police were so incompetent as to not investigate a very obvious early line of inquiry. However, this didn’t detract to any great extant from my overall enjoyment of this book. City of the Sun is not just a good fast-paced thriller, it’s also a book about pain and loss, and sometimes quite raw emotion.

David Levien is a screenwriter, with credits for Oceans Thirteen, Runaway Jury, Rounders and others. This is his first novel.

Damnation Falls by Edward Wright

Publisher: Orion Books, 2007
ISBN: 978 0 7528 8580 3
Pages: 308

Opening sentence: All through my growing up, my father and I would tramp through the woods around our small Tennessee town.

Randall Wilkes, in disgrace after being fired from his Chicago newspaper, returns to his home town of Pilgrim’s Rest to take on the job of ghost writing the autobiography of his old school friend, and former state governor, Sonny McMahon. On the night he arrives at Sonny’s summer house just outside the town, Randall has an unexpected visit from Sonny’s mother, Faye. Now suffering from dementia, Faye makes some garbled comments about her dead husband and her son being in danger. Later that night with a storm raging, Randall woken by a scream, investigates and finds Faye murdered, hanging from a bridge over Damnation Falls. When some bones found in a field outside town are identified as one of his old girlfriends, Randall determines to find her killer.

This is a book about truth and lies, and the extent to which some people will go to protect their lies, and the sometimes devastating consequences of uncovering the truth. But mostly this is a book about families, and the ties that bind even the most dysfunctional. The Southern small town setting feels very realistic, with Wright depicting a South with a deep sense of history. The characters are all very believable, and the main characters particularly likeable. Told in the first person with an easy flowing style, Wright has created a complex, multi-layered story that carries the reader through to a gripping finale.

Edward Wright, a former journalist, has previously written three books set in 1940s Los Angeles featuring former B-movie cowboy star, John Ray Horn. Each has won an award, the Debut Dagger, the Shamus, and the Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award respectively. Damnation Falls is his first standalone.