This is my first Val McDermid book.
Profiler Tony Hill and police detective Carol Jordan work together on a series of murders where the victims seem to be gay and the murders involve torture with sexual overtones. The book’s point of view alternates between Tony Hill, Carol Jordan and the killer. The latter point of view is in the form of a diary and I liked the way the description of each murder always lagged behind the description of the discovery of its victim.
The book is very well written and the serial killer is really a very scary character. The torture scenes are detailed and extremely gruesome; I did find these rather uncomfortable reading. In the background the book is much about how Tony Hill needs to sell psychological profiling to a sceptical police force and the internal politics of that force. There is a nice twist towards the end although it’s clear from early on who the serial killer’s next target is.
This really is an excellent book and I found it all the more gripping as I haven’t seen the TV series. 5 stars
This is my first David Baldacci book.
Will Robie is a US government assassin whose latest latest assignment goes wrong and he finds himself a wanted man. But by whom and why is a mystery which is revealed bit by bit over the course of the book. Also on the run is 14 year old Julie who teams up with Robie.
The book is a page turner and although long,400 pages, each of the 100 chapters is short and always moves the plot along. On the way there are a number of false leads, betrayals and twists. There is some introspective moral questioning of the main character’s motives but I didn’t find this particularly well written.
I had a problem with Julie; she was far too mature for a 14 year old. Occasionally Baldacci would throw in a scene where she does act her age but for me this only highlighted how incredible a character she was most of the time.
Overall I enjoyed the book and give it 3 stars. I would have given 4 if the book was a bit shorter and the Julie character made more believable.
The plot is about Simon, a fine art auctioneer who’s involved in the theft of a painting from his own place of work. In the course of the heist Simon receives a knock on the head from gang leader Frank causing him amnesia. When Simon comes round the painting is missing and Simon of course has no recollection of its whereabouts. After unsuccessfully torturing Simon, Frank decides to use a hypnotist to see if Simon’s memory can be unlocked. During the course of a number of hypnosis sessions the truth is gradually revealed and the painting eventually located.
I thought the first half of the film was excellent; the pace was brisk and there was a tension which never eased off. I had a bit of a problem with the second half. There are too many twists and turns: in particular it’s not clear what is reality and what is being re-enacted in a hypnosis session. This left me confused and as a result losing interest in finding out what happened. There is a voice over by one of the characters towards the end which summarizes the narrative and clears up most of the confusion. However I feel the film tried to be too clever and would have been better if there had been fewer twists and turns. Three and a half stars.
I recently attended a language speed dating session organised by Franglish.
They hold weekly sessions in both French and Spanish. The idea is you pair up with a native French or Spanish speaker (Spanish in my case) and speak for 7 minutes in the foreign language. This can be about anything you and your partner choose. After seven minutes you talk in English for another seven minutes. You then swap partners and the process is repeated another six or seven times.
I found this a great way to improve my conversational Spanish but I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner; I think it would too overwhelming an experience.
Richard Gere plays a 60 year old hedge fund manager trying to push through a merger that’s forever stalling. He has an affair with a much younger woman and gradually it emerges that he has been fiddling the books on a huge scale. On top of all this he is involved in a car accident from which he escapes. Despite being injured he immediately sets off to cover up his role in the crash.
Although he has some superficial charm and is not immediately unlikeable our anti-hero is always calculating whether in high-finance deals or his car crash cover up. There follows a Columbo-like cat and mouse game between him and a suspicious New York detective. Although I found the film reasonably engaging I found it lacked tension and Gere’s character was not that interesting. In a nice twist at the end the anti-hero’s wife and daughter cynically and calculatingly outwit him. 3 stars.
I think Tarantino’s like Marmite; you love him or hate him, there’s no in between. I really loved Django Unchained. It’s a sort of spaghetti-western, or rather spaghetti-western-southern. The gallows humour appealed to me. And I thought the acting of bounty hunter Christoph Waltz was first class. Of course everything is OTT especially the superb performance by Samuel L Jackson who’s ten times more reactionary than Downton Abbey’s butler. A lot of people may have problems with the violence but for me it was so exaggerated, much like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, that it didn’t really shock. Four and a half stars.