Tuesday 21 June 2011

"From Aberystwyth With Love" by Malcolm Pryce

I find it difficult to believe that I have not blogged about Malcolm Pryce before since I have been a huge fan of his work since Aberystwyth Mon Amour came out. There are now five in the series, so there is a treat in store for you if you have not actually sampled them before.

Imagine Raymond Chandler writing about a Welsh seaside resort where the Druids are the equivalent of the Mafia, ice cream parlours may be used for money-laundering, and small town politics seeth with corruption and illicit passion. Like Jasper Fforde, Pryce has created a surreal and richly comic world which sucks you in and delights you.

Louie Knight is his equivalent of Philip Marlowe and shares many of his characteristics: struggling financially, a loner and a maverick, but with a highly developed sense of personal honour.

Most impressive of all, Pryce has managed to keep the quality consistently high and the narrative fresh as the series has progresses, something with which others, such as perhaps Evanovich, have struggled. I really enjoy these books. They are good, well-written, clever fun.

Saturday 11 June 2011

"The Flowers of Evil" by Simon Acland

Readers will remember that I gave Simon Acland's The Waste Land a rave review; it was one of the best written, best researched pieces of historical fiction that I had seen for a long time. Well, now there is a sequel, as the final part of The Waste Land always hinted there would be, and which is facilitated by means of a very clever literary device, the nature of which I am certainly not going to disclose.

Which also makes it clightly difficult to tell you very much about Flowers of Evil without giving away any vital plot elements. Suffice it to say that it covers the period when various of the leaders of the First Crusade have split away and carved out principalities for themselves, most notably in Antioch and Edessa, amid constant manouverings and temporary alliances, with common religion not necessarily a bar to enmity, nor religious difference necessarily a bar to uniting against a comon enemy.

It is written in the same excellent style. The story moves at a cracking pace, and I was very glad to be able to take this book with me on a long plane journey, as I found it very difficult to put down, several glasses of Merlot notwithstanding. Like its predecessor, I thoroughly recommend it. Sex, violence, philosophical musings and great prose are a winning combination.