Review: The Christmas Hirelings, Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Rating: 2 out of 5

*Spoilers…*

I really did not enjoy this work. Not only was it predictable from about page 10, but it also seems to encourage a creepy theme whereby children are hired out for money (which admittedly was not done but the reader only learns about this in the very end of the book). Admittedly, this was written a good six score years ago, but I would have been more careful selecting the book meant to be representing the Christmas theme for 2018 (for Audible). Continue reading “Review: The Christmas Hirelings, Mary Elizabeth Braddon”

Review: All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

All the King's MenAll the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book took me a long while, indeed a lot longer than I would have thought originally. This stemmed from the author’s style which was rather complex and long-winded. I do not mind this, but I caution anyone going for the novel that if this does not sound like your thing, this book might be especially hard going. Continue reading “Review: All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren”

Review: ‘Dangerous Women’, George R.R. Martin

Dangerous WomenDangerous Women by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say, rating a collection is tough as it can obviously be very variable in quality. I found this here — a few of the stories were breathtaking in their intensity and beauty while others (the majority, regrettably) not nearly as interesting. For personal reasons, I found the stories which touched on the historic aspect a bit more thrilling but in general the variety was commendable. Continue reading “Review: ‘Dangerous Women’, George R.R. Martin”

Review: ‘Anansi Boys’, Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys (American Gods)Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this a perfect enjoyable story, a good part of it humours with the rest revealing the author’s good grasp of humanity. It is not a terribly witty book, but it is funny it its simple description of life and its annoyances. Similarly, it is not terribly good in any specific part but what it does very well is storytelling. Anansi was a storyteller and so is Mr Gaiman. Continue reading “Review: ‘Anansi Boys’, Neil Gaiman”

‘A Kiss Before Dying’, I. Levin

I can remember reading ‘The Boys from Brazil’ sometime last year. I never thought much else of Ira Levin although I really enjoyed that book. Yesterday, it was time to choose another one, and for some reason my pick fell on ‘A Kiss Before Dying’. The author, again, Ira Levin.

I enjoyed his previous book I read very much—indeed, so much that I had to wonder why I had not written a word on it last year when I finished the title. I wish I knew… However, I definitely wanted to offer a few thoughts on this one.

Ira Levin’s quality, compared to other thriller writers (such as John Grisham), seems to be very good at making us think twice of who we want to come out on top in this particular engagement. Admittedly, I have only read two or three of Mr Grisham’s books, but in those I always rooted for the ‘victim’. I wanted them to escape, and them to ‘win’. With Mr Levin, this simple question is more complex.

The character of the detective in ‘The Boys from Brazil’ was so evil and repulsive and autocratic in itself I did not want him to win. The victims in ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ speak to me on a personal level, however. I wanted them to not die. It was not fair they perished while the murderer lived. Plus, some of the plot twists that came up, I could not have predicted them despite all the books I have read.

The murders in ‘The Boys from Brazil’ did not happen because of personal gain or evil motives. ┬áThe murders in ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ happened exactly because of that. Maybe that makes all the difference. I am unsure. All that I know is that it is Mr Levin who made it appear so. Maybe I should feel it for the detective who tries to impose his own black-and-white on the world, and maybe I should feel it for the impoverished man who wants money. I don’t really know.

What made me most sympathetic to the cause of the people in this book was that halfway through the second part, I realised that I did not know who the killer was. The writer had played it well. I immediately appreciated the book that much more. Much like yesterday when I mentioned the importance of characters whose name is not mentioned by the writer, the second part in this work used a similar device. It was something different from the usual and for that it truly deserved my gratitude. There are too many ‘usual’ books.

As the Introduction to the edition I read said, it “It’s not fair.” The culprit in this book might have been that for the reason that the same Introduction postulates, “He hates women.” I really can’t say. The book might make one think different. All that I know is that I have a few friends who would enjoy this book, and that I thought of a few for whom this book might be a good gift. The lines flew by, and their tone made them that much more important.

As it is, I can predict what is to happen in some of the scenes and yet I cannot believe Mr Levin goes on with it. The foreword echoes these thoughts. Or maybe it precedes them. It was written beforehand, after all, even if I did not read it. But that’s that. For now, pick up a book by Ira Levin. Read that book. Think of that book.

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