Book Review: Wolf by Mo Hader

Okay, I’m going to be honest here; I was a bit nervous about picking up Wolf because the last couple of Mo Hader books have been a struggle to finish. She seemed to have lost her way a little, but in the main I really enjoy her writing so I thought this one was worth a punt.
Anyway, I’m glad I did, because Wolf marks something of a return to form. Once again, we find DI Jack Caffery of the Somerset Police being dragged into the pit by his personal demons, and at the same time trying to find a killer for whom the term sick in the head was invented.

The plot is ambitious, far-reaching and maintains an exhausting level of tension from the very first page. And I mean that: I finished the book and went for a massage. There are a surprising number of characters who drop in and out of the story, but each one is carefully crafted, so you’re not left wth the impression that the author is just plugging space with people. In fact I hope we see some of them again in later novels.

As we roll towards the conclusion, Hader lets of the handbrake and there’s no putting the book down. There’s the inevitable ‘big reveal’ and I’m sorry that I mistook the clues she left for holes in the story! Thinking about it now, I should have known better.
As usual, the novel is quite graphic in its depiction of violence (sexual and otherwise) so I’d probably not attempt it after a heavy meal, but all in all, wonderful stuff.

Mo Hader is back!

Nine out of ten, but my God who’d live in a house near a Somerset forest?

Book Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

I don’t think I’d be giving anything away if I mention that Robert Galbraith is just J.K. Rowling with a bloke’s name. The good thing about this is that you know you’re in for a stonking good read, and that’s exactly what you get with Silkworm.

18214414.jpgThis is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series (I say ‘series’, but I don’t know how many more she plans to write). Her hero, the surly one-legged war veteran turned private detective, finds himself immersed in the apparently vain, self-centred and generally grotesque arena of the publishing industry, while trying to find the murderer of a vain, self-centred and generally grotesque fiction writer.

First off, she must’ve had great fun writing this book: there is not one redeeming feature in anyone working in the industry, so much so that at several points during the novel I found that I probably didn’t care who did it. Publishers, agents, novelists (industry-published and self-published) are gloriously savaged without restraint. What saves the day is the relationship between the main characters (the detective and his secretary), and the secretary’s ongoing clashes with  her fiance. Unlike the first book, in which the murder was the plot’s main driver, I got the feeling that solving the crime took something of a back seat this time round, which was unfortunate because I think I was a little less interested in who did it by the time I reached the big reveal.

Still, Cormoran and Robin are such great characters, so there was more than enough to sustain my interest to the very end. Looking forward to the next one.

Seven out of ten.


Book Review: The Night Following by Morag Joss

This one was an impulse buy; I hadn’t read a book in a while (smacked wrists), so I picked up The Night Following when it showed up in one of those marketing email shots. Definitely a case of expecting one thing and getting something else entirely.
I’m tempted to say that it’s one story told from three viewpoints, but it’s much more than that. It’s three separate stories that are loosely intertwined, so much so that the writing style changes as you move from character to character.

I don’t want to give too much away, but it starts with a road accident, a hit-and-run, and spirals outward from there, weaving the story in the past and the present.
It’s beautifully written, as close to literary fiction as you can get with a novel like this, though I did think that the characterisations perhaps lacked a bit of dimension. I wasn’t too sure about the ending, but endings are very subjective things.

Still, even if this isn’t your usual sort of thing, the book is an excellent study in writing style, especially if you’re looking to blend them in the same novel. I actually enjoyed, and I’ll pick up another Morag Joss in the future.

Marks? Mmmm . . . Eight out of ten.