Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Innocent – Book Review

I really liked this book: it’s all about plot that keeps you hooked with twist and turns and more unanswered questions being continuously raised. As with other Harlan Coben books I really like the theme of middle class suburban folk with a past that catches up with them. I found the book started a little slow as it took a while to get all the threads going. I did find there were too many characters that meant I had to go back every now and then to recall a character’s earlier appearance. I thought the dialogue and characters a bit clichéd.  While there were no contacts in the mafia a middle class housewife could call on, a device Coben has used in other books, there is a convenient walk on police contact whose hobby is creating a stripper database. I thought this a bit lazy of Coben and there really was no need for him to do this in order to keep the story moving. As usual with Coben there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the story but the final twists in the last two chapters were just a little too pat.  All these negative points may be the reason for some readers to give this book a low star rating, but for me they were more irritants that prevented me giving five stars. For me a thriller has to have a good plot and be a page turner and in this respect Coben delivers. 4 stars.

The Two Faces of January – Movie Review

The film is adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel and there similarities to The Talented Mr Ripley (TTMR).

The film starts in 1962 Athens when a wealthy middle-aged American Chester MacFarland (played by  Viggo Mortensen) and his younger wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) meet with Rydal (Oscar Isaac). Rydal is a young American drifter working as a tour guide exploiting his customers’ lack of the Greek language to short change them. In some ways Rydal resembles Tom Ripley although he is far less of a sociopath.

Chester turns out to be a fraudster escaping from investors he has swindled.  All three end up on the run and move to Crete. The plot is less complex than TTMR and the interest is mainly in the interactions between the characters, in particular the two men. In turns each tries to manipulate and get the better of the other. Added to this Rydal becomes infatuated with Colette. Overall one of the better films I have seen this year. 3 stars.

BTW This is the first time I’ve seen a British Board of Film Classification warning of “scenes of smoking”. And yes, there is a lot of smoking.