Pattern Recognition was a dream-like story with a wild and complex plot that never quite resolved itself (for me). Spook Country starts out the same and then becomes a more direct plot with a kick. It's futuristic, but it could happen today. It's a mystery, but it's totally plausible. The prose is inventive, but it's totally understandable. It's a great book.
This is a wordy and overwritten book of very little mystery, with a narrator who makes a singsong attempt at Indian accents that makes them all sound the same. Its redeeming qualities are a somewhat endearing detective and some local color prose. But they're not enough to rescue the book.
This is not a great book by a long shot, but it's an entertaining book.
It's Thackeray-like: lots of characters over lots of time with lots of plot intersections and some (only some) witty commentary on the people and their society. But it's really, really long--far longer than the characters justify and with very little plot development. And it's really vulgar; the language is obscene, the actions are beyond bawdy, and the people are shallow. (That's part of Wolf's point--really his main point--but he reproduces the boredom of being around these people and their talk.)
And yet it's still worth the trouble. Even windy, four-letter-filled Thackeray is better than most stuff that's written now. There are wickedly funny observations and some really first-rate prose.
And the narrator is terrific. He separatates characters clearly and gives them moods and tones of voice. He alone pushed my rating up one star.
It's not LeCarre, but it's good spy stuff. The Italian settings, food, and language lessons all made me want to go.
It's a good read, and well narrated.
This tirade disguised as a novel is not good as either. Part of the time it's just statistics and talking points: Here's the volume of greenhouse gases emitted last year; here's last year's average temperature; here's last year's thickness of ice in Antarctica....
And part of the time it is just hack writing: A wounded, bleeding man is grey. A little later another wounded, bleeding man is grey. Scandinavian women are tall, blonde, and attractive....
I don't really care what the politics of the thriller are supposed to be (this one is opposed to environmental extremists), but a thriller shouldn't be this boring.
This is a very slow, thin book with little character development and less plot. The amusement in it is the extraction of major philosophical and moral debates from very minor daily life. It's calm, not unpleasant, but not much more.
Some cyberfiction, some critique of marketing and branding, some treasure hunt. This is better than Gibson's earlier books (some of which are good). This is Asimov plus McLuhan plus LeCarre.
The reader is also very good, giving distinct characterizations to a number of people and, sometimes, making it possible to tell if the dialogue is spoken or typed. Her voice is good to listen to. (I do wish that someone had told her how to pronounce some of the non-American words; it's distracting to hear them mangled. But that's a small thing.)
This is funny stuff. It's a series of wry essays, read by the author in a Southern drawl, but not just about the South (e.g., how to get a restaurant table, what's weird about celebrities, etc.) It's terrific.
I like this writer and her recurring characters. This book also has some interesting stuff about the pottery craft. But the elements of the mystery (and its solution) are hammered in repeatedly. I was tempted just to fast forward to get it over with. Not her best.
This is the best of the Judge Knott series: Good local color and colorful writing, good characters (both main and secondary), and a complex plot that was fun to follow. Good diversion.
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