Wednesday, August 4, 2010

{review} rimington + connelly

Stella Rimington Dead Line (2008)
Michael Connelly The Scarecrow (2009)

Dead Line   The Scarecrow

I was a bit let down by Dead Line, the fourth outing for Stella Rimington's heroine Liz Carlyle. For a fair bit of this book I really had no idea what was going on. My concentration was not held and at some vital point I lost track of whose secret services were doing what, where, why and to whom. I like Liz Carlyle - she's a modern heroine with modern issues, but I started to get a bit annoyed with her 'OMG I'm still single' thought monologues. The mini-theme of birds of prey was apt - Liz is becoming a bit like a vulture herself, looming over the slowly dying wife of her boss. On the plus side: Rimington is great on details of espionage, as we'd expect from the former head of MI5. It's the characters who are starting to irk me: how can I balance my desire for them not to be one-dimensional (as some are) with my wish not to know any more about their lives outside their secret worlds?! Oh dear, I've run right off my "on the plus side" list. Anyway, the plot, if I grasped it properly, is about an attempt to sabotage a Middle East peace conference in Scotland. The conclusion was entirely predictable. I kept wishing that they'd all been blown up at about page 50. I enjoyed the first three books in the series, so I'm hoping this one will be erased from my mind by the next one, which I'm sure I won't be able to resist. All that sexy spycraft... Rating: 5/10

Happier things: a Michael Connelly book is like meeting up with an old friend. Connelly's so reliable, so intensely plot-driven, so good on the details of character and place. I was happy to see the return of Rachel Walling (from The Poet and a couple of other Connelly's) in The Scarecrow. She is a great strong but flawed female heroine. I was less keen on Jack McEvoy, to whom I didn't particularly warm in The Poet. I keep mentioning The Poet. This was Connelly's excellent 1996 serial killer thriller. It was well-written, with memorable characters and the action was fast and tightly plotted. It was filled with shocks and surprises and contained an attractive mix of professional and amateur detection in its story of the FBI's hunt for the serial-killer the Poet. The Scarecrow reunites Rachel Walling, the FBI agent who was responsible, with the journalist Jack McEvoy, for tracking down the Poet. Many years have passed and McEvoy is about to be made redundant from his newspaper reporting job. He decides to go out with a bang with one final big story on a serial killer whom no one has suspected - but it seems that he may have fatally underestimated his high-tech opponent. Fortunately Rachel is prepared to put her career on the line (again - why is it that women do this so readily when it is so much more difficult for them to regain the ground?) to save Jack from himself and the Scarecrow. The result is not as gripping as The Poet or its sequel The Narrows, but it is a good read: a Connelly rarely disappoints. I've mentioned his ability to set a scene - he is such a visual, almost cinematic writer. Every book I read makes me feel like getting straight on a plane to Los Angeles. Again, though - and maybe I'm just a sour old sociopath - the personal issues intrude unevenly in places. McEvoy's dialogue, in particular, I thought a bit stilted (funny, given that McEvoy has Connelly's ex-job at the LA Times). He seems, in this outing, a somewhat formulaic figure, unlike Connelly's better known and always unpredictable hero Hieronymus 'Harry' Bosch. Rating: 7/10

If you liked these: read Stella Rimington's fascinating autobiography Open Secret and Michael Connelly's The Poet - or any of the Harry Bosch series.

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{READ IN 2018}

  • FEBRUARY
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  • 26. The Grave's a Fine & Private Place - Alan Bradley
  • 25. This is What Happened - Mick Herron
  • 24. London Rules - Mick Herron
  • 23. The Third Eye - Ethel Lina White
  • 22. Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mewed - Alan Bradley
  • 21. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley
  • 20. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
  • 19. Speaking from Among the Bones - Alan Bradley
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  • 18. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
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  • 13. Portrait of a Murderer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 12. Murder is a Waiting Game - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 1. She Shall Died - Anthony Gilbert

{READ IN 2017}

  • DECEMBER
  • 134. Third Crime Lucky - Anthony Gilbert
  • 133. Death Takes a Wife - Anthony Gilbert
  • 132. Death Against the Clock - Anthony Gilbert
  • 131. Give Death a Name - Anthony Gilbert
  • 130. Riddle of a Lady - Anthony Gilbert
  • 129. And Death Came Too - Anthony Gilbert
  • 128. Snake in the Grass - Anthony Gilbert
  • 127. Footsteps Behind Me - Anthony Gilbert
  • 126. Miss Pinnegar Disappears - Anthony Gilbert
  • 125. Lady-Killer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 124. A Nice Cup of Tea - Anthony Gilbert
  • 123. Die in the Dark - Anthony Gilbert
  • 122. Death in the Wrong Room - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 120. Lift up the Lid - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 117. A Spy for Mr Crook - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 110. London Crimes - Martin Edwards (ed.)
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  • 107. Dear Dead Woman - Anthony Gilbert
  • 106. The Bell of Death - Anthony Gilbert
  • 105. Treason in my Breast - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 102. Murder by Experts - Anthony Gilbert
  • 101. The Perfect Murder Case - Christopher Bush
  • 100. The Plumley Inheritance - Christopher Bush
  • 99. Spy - Bernard Newman
  • 98. Cargo of Eagles - Margery Allingham & Philip Youngman Carter
  • 97. The Mind Readers - Margery Allingham
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  • 96. The China Governess - Margery Allingham
  • 95. Hide My Eyes - Margery Allingham
  • 94. The Beckoning Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 93. The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
  • 92. More Work for the Undertaker - Margery Allingham
  • 91. Coroner's Pidgin - Margery Allingham
  • 90. Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham
  • 89. The Fashion in Shrouds - Margery Allingham
  • 88. The Case of the Late Pig - Margery Allingham
  • 87. Dancers in Mourning - Margery Allingham
  • AUGUST
  • 86. Flowers for the Judge - Margery Allingham
  • 85. Death of a Ghost - Margery Allingham
  • 84. Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham
  • 83. Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham
  • 82. Look to the Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 81. Mystery Mile - Margery Allingham
  • 80. The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham
  • 79. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham
  • 78. Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay
  • 77. No Man's Land - David Baldacci
  • 76. The Escape - David Baldacci
  • 75. The Forgotten - David Baldacci
  • 74. Zero Day - David Baldacci
  • JULY
  • 73. Pilgrim's Rest - Patricia Wentworth
  • 72. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth
  • 71. The Watersplash - Patricia Wentworth
  • 70. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth
  • 69. The Listening Eye - Patricia Wentworth
  • 68. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth
  • 67. Out of the Past - Patricia Wentworth
  • 66. Mistress - Amanda Quick
  • 65. The Black Widow - Daniel Silva
  • 64. The Narrow - Michael Connelly
  • 63. The Poet - Michael Connelly
  • 62. The Visitor - Lee Child
  • 61. No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories - Lee Child
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  • 60. The Queen's Accomplice - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 59. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante - Susan Elia MacNeal
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  • 38. Everybody Always Tells - E. R. Punshon
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  • 36. The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey
  • 35. A Scream in Soho - John G. Brandon
  • 34. A Murder is Arranged - Basil Thomson
  • 33. The Milliner's Hat Mystery - Basil Thomson
  • 32. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? - Basil Thomson
  • 31. The Dartmoor Enigma - Basil Thomson
  • 30. The Case of the Dead Diplomat - Basil Thomson
  • 29. The Case of Naomi Clynes - Basil Thomson
  • 28. Richardson Scores Again - Basil Thomson
  • 27. A Deadly Thaw - Sarah Ward
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  • 26. The Spy Paramount - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 25. The Great Impersonation - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 24. Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
  • 23. The Case of Sir Adam Braid - Molly Thynne
  • 22. The Ministry of Fear - Graham Greene
  • 21. The Draycott Murder Mystery - Molly Thynne
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
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  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
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  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
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  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore