Daily Archives: January 30, 2012

Getting Off by Lawrence Block – writing as Jill Emerson

Published by Hard Case Crime (Titan Books).

Subtitled ‘A Novel of Sex & Violence’ and with one of the most striking jackets thus far from the superb Hard Case Crime stable (courtesy of Gregory Manchess), this new hardback release from crime legend Lawrence Block certainly doesn’t fail to deliver on any of its promises.

Sex and violence in spades here, with bodily fluids of all kinds literally pouring from every page. Not an easy read if you prefer your crime of the cosier type, but that’s not what you would pick this book up for.

Kit Tolliver is a damaged woman, abused in her past by the one man she knew had always loved her, and now hellbent on seeking out all of her former lovers in a personal quest to start again. To do this, she sees the only way to gain a release from her past is to firstly have a final sexual release with each man and then release them from the world by killing them – hence the ‘Getting Off’ in both respects of the title.

As a reader we are complicit in Kit’s crimes, and I even got the feeling that if I closed the book she would still be out there, screwing and slaying her way around the US. This is Thelma or Louise amped to the max, a femme fatale the like of which you will have never read, stealing identities and cash as she lives out her very own road movie as a seemingly unstoppable serial killer. Along the ride, Kit finds herself at the peril of others who threaten to harm and even kill her without realising what a threat she poses, and further explores her own sexuality with lesbian encounters as she strives to find what she needs, who she is.

It’s certainly a book that will divide readers, I would guess in a similar way to views of novels like Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, but whatever your view on the subject matter and the unflinching sex and violence, there is no denying the importance and the skill of Lawrence Block in the crime fiction world.

A brave and furious novel – Go get yours!

Keith

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SIEGE by Simon Kernick

Published by Bantam Press

Blasting into bookstores, here comes another rapid fire, fast paced, taut action thriller of the kind we expect and love from Simon Kernick. This time round he’s slapped the action bang (literally) in the centre of our capital city with a fictional hotel, The Stanhope, on London’s Park Lane falling victim to a terrifying hostage and siege situation by a terrorist group. The Pan-Arab Army of God have already launched attacks at a railway station and at the Westfield Shopping Centre, diverting attention away from their main central London target but, once there, it’s full on into five hours of intense action which rarely leaves the hotel, trapping the reader in with the group of hostages, hotel staff and the terrorists themselves.

It’s the human element of the book that worked very well for me as it’s hard not to draw some parallels with the first Die Hard movie for some of the general concept. Those caught up in the siege all have well-drawn back-stories, their own reasons for being there and, in some cases, reasons their being in the hotel they would rather have kept a secret.

A diabetic mother with her young son who becomes separated from her insulin, a mysterious ex-soldier, a man who has come to the hotel to end his life, a woman waiting to meet her married lover – these are all very real people with very real problems and situations before the siege erupts around them and traps them inside.

Even when the action steps outside of the hotel to the character of Arley Dale – she who has the unenviable task of running the police operation – Mr Kernick doesn’t let up and gives Dale her very own crisis. In Siege everyone is at risk.

The author’s known association with Anti-Terrorist and Special Branch officers is clear, but not in a way that appears heavy handed by piling in research – details are skillfully woven in, as and when needed, and I will never look at a drafts’ folder on someone’s email screen in quite the same way again.

I would imagine it would be very easy to spot which house Simon Kernick lives in if you walked down his street. It would surely have a bin outside filled to the brim with keyboards that had been hammered to death by his pounding unrelenting pace with which he must surely write his books at the intense speed with which readers have to devour them.

Lock your doors, check they’re locked, and settle down for a thrillfest.

Keith

 

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