Burly, yet brilliant. Violent, yet sensitive to the needs of women. Loyal to friends, yet indifferent to relationships.
Meet Jack Reacher, U.S. hero of British writer Lee Child’s thriller series about an ex military policeman who drifts around, usually finding himself in small town America with a woman to save, an injustice to right, a mystery to solve or, often, all three.
I much enjoyed “The Affair”
I have been a Jack Reacher fan since reading my first Lee Child novel, “Tripwire”, over a decade ago. That book features a cunning plot; extreme violence, some directed against wholly innocent people; and a powerful, satisfying resolution.
Child has published 22 Jack Reacher novels in total, exactly one a year since 1997. They are hugely successful: “Make Me” (no.20 in the series, published in 2015), for example, has over 2,800 reviews on Amazon.co.uk and over 7,800 on Amazon.com.
But super-successful novelists have a problem. From Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent to J K Rowling’s Harry Potter, publishers’ deadlines and the fact that readers who enjoy one book will be keen to buy the next in the series make it hard for writers to maintain a consistently high standard. Even my favourite thriller-writer, Michael Connelly, has one or two books which are weaker than the rest.
How about Lee Child? I see good news, bad news and good news. The first good news (more…)
I am on a four-stage plane journey, from Vienna to Sharm-el-Sheikh and back via Istanbul. On the first leg, from Vienna to Istanbul, my Turkish Airlines flight features seat-back video and I choose recent blockbuster “Black Panther”.
Unfortunately the crew make many announcements in numerous languages, interrupting the movie. So I miss the end of the film, which I am hoping will include astonishing plot twists but fear will mostly be superheroes slugging each other (a problem with all superhero movies: if two superheroes have a superhero fist-fight, how do you make it interesting? No-one knows).
On the subsequent three legs, Istanbul-Sharm, Sharm-Istanbul and Istanbul-Vienna, the Turkish Airlines aircraft are older, without seat-back video. So I still haven’t seen the end of “Black Panther”. Should I make an effort to catch the last 20 minutes? What do you think? No spoilers please!
But good news is coming. On the communal screens on the older planes, the airline shows episodes of Fish Tank Kings. This is (more…)
Someone pointed out recently that I hadn’t written about the Hotel Stories for some time.
In fact, I recently rebranded The Hotel Stories – Complete Collection as Seven Hotel Stories. My goal was to remind readers how many stories now exist in a single, novel-length volume.
All the stories feature the world’s most brilliant, unpredictable and occasionally homicidal hotel manager, Ms N; her beautiful but naive ally, Tatiana; and Ms N’s unique methods of solving problems.
The first story, Britches, shows how Ms N and Tatiana first met; and how they sorted out the hotel owner from hell using a Combined Burns Night and St Patrick’s Day Ball (they exist – I have been to one); the President of China; and something Tatiana found under a handsome Scotsman’s kilt.
The second Hotel Story is The Two Rooms. It features an obnoxious guest; a hypocritical Prime Minister on a moral crusade; some Russian ice-hockey fans; an angry Japanese sushi chef; and a startling twist. Is it my favourite? Perhaps it is.
I have written several times in these chronicles of my slow-burn devotion to the works of P G Wodehouse, including my induction (How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide), drawing on the excellent advice of fellow WordPress blogger and Wodehouse specialist Plumtopia – strongly recommended for all things Jeeves and Wooster and beyond.
Hence my concern, bordering on panic, at my initial perception that “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit” was not quite such a pearl of the Wodehouse canon as, say, the wondrous Thank you, Jeeves. Bertie Wooster’s early decision to grow a moustache, to the disapproval of Jeeves, felt a little familiar as a plot device. The plot of the first half of the book meandered – well, I am reminded of Bertie’s description of Daphne Dolores Morehead on her first appearance in the novel as having “a figure as full of curves as a scenic railway”.
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”
That very reference to Ms Morehead, however, signals my sense of relief that I can in fact recommend “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”, the seventh P G Wodehouse novel to feature Jeeves and Wooster and his sixtieth book overall, wholeheartedly. From about the half-way point, the story spreads its wings. The subsequent flight is sublime. The scene following the unexpected arrival of the aforementioned Daphne at Brinkley Court is amongst the funniest (more…)
My blog The Simpsons – existential, circular fantasy 9/10 argued that that “The Simpsons” was the most sophisticated show on TV.
Do you agree?
Back then I praised Series 25, Episode 20, Brick Like Me, in which I noted the parallels between the episode and the 1955 Frederik Pohl short story The Tunnel Under the World, with its exploration (as in Brick Like Me) of the horrors of unfettered capitalism.
Trash of the Titans is the 22nd episode of the 9th season of the Simpsons, from 1998. It is the 200th episode overall. Do the producers make a special effort with round-numbered episodes? Maybe they do: Brick Like Me was episode 550.
Trash of the Titans looks at what can happen when democracy goes wrong:
(i) an evil corporation, trying to fill a lull in sales of its useless toys, cards and gifts over the summer, invents “Love Day” to boost sales (a naive executive who argues they should accept the lull – “hey, we’re making enough money, right?” is ejected by goons). Shortly after, the Simpsons are celebrating “Love Day”, despite Lisa pointing out that “the stores just invented this holiday to make (more…)
Franz Schubert steps to one side.
The lights go down.
Robert Pimm looks up at the packed crowd.
‘My name is Robert Pimm,’ he says. ‘First time I’ve said that.’
For those of you who were kind enough to attend my reading from my new Berlin thriller Blood Summit at the Cafe Korb in Vienna on 16 March, introduced by remarkable artistic director Franz Schubert (“this name is not a joke”), thank you.
The cool video of my reading from Blood Summit above was produced by the excellent Sibylle Trost in Berlin – thanks, Sibylle!
I was delighted to receive a good deal of positive feedback on 16 March, as well as news the next day that brilliant English language bookshop Shakespeare & Company at Sterngasse 2 in central Vienna had run out of copies of Blood Summit.
They have since renewed their supplies.
Blood Summit on the shelves at Shakespeare & Company in Vienna
For those of you who were not at the reading on 16 March, or who would like another splash of Blood Summit, I have good news. I will be doing another reading at 1930 on 15 June, at Shakespeare & Company. I am most grateful to them for providing a venue.
Put it in your diary now. Let me know if you have any questions about how to attend. If you don’t live in Vienna, maybe this is the excuse you have been waiting for to book that lovely weekend in the beautiful Viennese capital, with entertainment on Friday night already fixed up.
If you would like to buy or read Blood Summit, click here.
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The pattern is unmistakeable.
A graph shows a financial trend-line (the price of gold) going up and down a couple of times, then declining more steeply.
Around the trend-line, someone has sketched a crude profile of a camel, its head lowered as if to vomit.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Vomiting Camel, a spoof species of technical analysis created by FT writer @katie_martin_fx to poke fun at how so-called technical analysts attempt to predict future price movements of eg stocks or oil or gold by drawing lines on graphs to identify trends.
You can read her brilliant article (more…)