Friday 31 August 2012


Has this guy ever writen a dud novel? If he has, I certainly haven't read it. He is my very favourite crime novelist. His writing is consistently brilliant – exciting plots with breathtaking pace, vivid characterisations, visually descriptive settings and all with a sound understanding of the American legal system and law enforcement agencies. And The Brass Verdict is no exception.

I could be wrong, but I think that this is one of his first novels. His main character is Mikey Haller who is a defence lawyer. Having taken time off to overcome alcohol dependency, he receives an unexpected windfall: he has been given all of the cases of an old colleague, Jerry Vincent, recently murdered. And Vincent's biggest case is an absolute whopper. He is to represent a Hollywood director, Walter Elliot, who has been accused of murdering his wife and her lover. Mikey can hardly believe his luck but soon realises that he has actually been given a poisoned chalice.

He reluctantly works alongside detective Harry Bosch, both of whom do not reveal the full extent of their knowledge. And what follows has enough twists and turns to make it a thrilling read. The only problem with the book is that it does eventually end! Luckily, Connelly is a prolific writer so there are plenty more to read or listen to.

What I found fascinating was that although we learn a lot about Haller in The Brass Verdict, Bosch only plays a small part. Having read a number of Connelly's novels which feature Bosch, I enjoyed seeing the seeds being sown about Bosch's character (maserfully done in an incredibly sparse way).

And the meaning of the title is only revealed at the end, which worked really well for me.

If you want to read a crime novel which doesn't disappoint, read The Brass Verdict or any of Connelly's novels.

Sunday 26 August 2012


Ian Rankin is classed as one of the leading British novelists in crime fiction – his Inspector Rebus novels in particular get rave reviews – but I have never read any of them. One of life's little mysteries. But I was keen to give him a go. This novel is post-Inspector Rebus but it is a crime novel and still set in Rankin's Edinburgh.

However, I started to read Open Doors having just finished Steig Larsson's trilogy: The girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc and this novel seemed tame in comparison, particularly the rather far-fetched plot of three friends who plan to stage a theft of art masterpieces. So, I put it to one side and read a Nora Roberts novel instead (reviewed in an earlier post).

But recently I decided to give it another go and I'm glad I did.

The three friends are Mike Mackenzie, a highly successful and extremely rich business man who is bored with his life and looking for a project to spice things up, Allen Cruickshank, a banker, and Robert Gissing,  head of Edinburgh's College of Art.

It is Gissing's idea to use counterfeit paintings to replace the originals stored in a warehouse during an Open Day to the public. Neither Mike nor Allan need much persuasion since they are interested in fine art and the idea of owning their own originals blind them to the fact that it's a highly risky enterprise which they can't carry out by themselves. They need not only a highly talented artist to paint the counterfeits but also professional gangsters to carry out the heist.

Gissing has such an artist in mind: Westie, who is one of his students. And Mike persuades Chib Calloway, a particularly brutal gangster, to provide the heavies and firearms.

And add to the mix Westie's vacuous girlfriend Alice, Laura Stanton, who is involved in the art world and (whoops, can't remember her name and I don't have the book any more) who Mike is particularly keen on, D.I. Hendricks who is in charge of the case after the heist has been successfully completed and his rival detective D.I. Ransome who is keen to to put caraway behind bars. And then, of course, is the ominous figure of Hate who has been sent to retrieve the money Calloway owes his boss.

I found the characterisation rather shallow but the plot did improve as the story unfolded and there were enough twists and turns to keep me wanting to read more. So I would say that this is a good read but not a particularly brilliant novel.

Saturday 18 August 2012


If we're going to start on the 'what ifs' we'll be here until the cows come home - Karl Kennedy in 'Neighbours'

Wednesday 1 August 2012


Probably the only people who were not bowled over by Friday's opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics were the Brazilian team in charge of the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympics. Just how do you top such an amazing spectacle?

It was fantastic from start to finish: the Queen and James Bond, sheep and border collies, Mr Bean being stupid, children dancing on hospital beds, David Beckham on a speed-boat, an array of Prozac- bright colours, Usain Bolt, a bombardment of exciting music, suffragettes, chimney factories rising up from the ground, some of the most talented athletes in the world taking photographs of the audience, an explosion of fireworks, doves on bicycles, a cauldron of copper bowls, not just one but seven young athletes to light the cauldron... The list goes on and on and on...

It was informative, creative, moving, exciting, inspiring, and funny.

If my only regret is that I didn't record it. Guess I'll have to buy the DVD because I want to watch it all over again.