Archive for November, 2000

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

In books read on November 30, 2000

Purchased on 1st November 2001.

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In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson

In books read on November 22, 2000

These are my comments from a bookgroup discussion of this book which is why they probably seem a bit decontextified.....

(Comparing Robinson's use of flashbacks to Robert Crais's in LA Requiem) I prefer Robinson's use of flashbacks, they're telling the same story from a different angle. They are almost not flashbacks at all. I feel there are three intertwined stories that are really the same story. I find them much easier to read than Crais's. When Crais switched to italics and switched from first to third person I felt it was jarring. Even though Robinson switches from first to third person too, I feel the transistions are smoother. Even though Robinson almost always leaves us with a mini cliffhanger as he switches tales I'm happy to get back to one of the other stories and find out what's happening there.

(Comparing Robinson's use of flashbacks to Reginald Hill's in On Beulah Height) I read that quite a while ago now. I don't feel Robinson is up to Hill's standard as a writer, but I do feel he weaves the plot together more than competently and am seeing parallels between what happens in one story and what happens in another. It's not of the same standard as Hill's interwoven plot in _On Beulah Height_ though, I think that book was a masterpiece of plotting, and though I haven't finished _In a Dry Season_ yet, I think the weaving is of a more superficial variety here. I may yet be proven wrong but the book hasn't grabbed me in the way OBH did.

I agree that the hostile superior officer is a bit of a yawny cliche, I kind of skipped over that in the book thinking 'yeah yeah yeah, do something new....'. But I didn't realise that I was reading part of a series until I read the other discussion messages here. I can't find anything in my copy that implies that there are earlier books to be read. If I'd picked this book up by myself I'd be a bit pissed off if I later discovered I'd started in the middle of a series unknowingly. Is this an 'Alan Banks' series then?

In which case I'm quite impressed with Robinson for not making me feel I was in the middle of a series. Banks seemed to be a well rounded character to me, he didn't seem to be wallowing in his problems and they seemed realistic sort of problems. He seemed real and I thought his family problems fleshed out his character nicely without becoming the focus of the book.

All the characters in the book in fact seemed quite realistic, flawed but not larger than life with it. I liked Annie and Gwen too, everyone seems very down to earth.

On the whole the book does come over as very real to me, I'm enjoying all the information there is, whether it's about examining old bones or the onset of more rationing or life in the police force, I haven't yet noticed anything that seemed wholly unlifelike.

Purchased on 1st November 2000.


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