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»It was Frantz’s responsibility to choreograph the “carefully managed drama of sin and redemption” that took place at an execution. Putting on a good show – that struck terror into the hearts of would-be criminals and enacted the dread majesty of the state – was at the heart of his job. Frantz is a disturbing figure; it is hard to sympathise with cool functionaries who torture and kill, yet Harrington’s portrait makes it hard not to as we learn more about the man and his world.«
The gory career of the medieval killer Frantz Schmidt who tried to do his job properly fascinates Ben Wilson. His review on The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honour and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century by Joel F. Harrington at The Telegraph.
»But in the end this is his worst book, and for a sad, even noble, reason – his ambition here wildly exceeds his ability.«
Crime and thriller critic Jake Kerridge about the new thriller Inferno by Dan Brown. His review at The Telegraph.
»The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.”«
Critics say Dan Brown‘s writing is clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. Michael Deacon hits back at the author’s haters – at The Telegraph.
»The book deals with important and interesting issues – what do you do to lift the gloom when three quarters of the world is starving and around you the economy and society is falling apart – but the issues lose their way in the constant violence.«
The Hit, a teen thriller by Melvin Burgess, is about a new euthanasia drug called Death. Martin Chilton reviews the book at The Telegraph.
»Compared to the lean prose of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, published 50 years ago this year, le Carré’s recent novels can seem overwritten. Some dodgy police dialogue aside (do officers really address people as “son”?), le Carré has returned in A Delicate Truth to what he does best: storytelling.«
John le Carré, the master of espionage, returns with a thrilling tale of dirty tricks in the war on terror, says Jon Stock. His review of A Delicate Truth you can read at The Telegraph.
»Most writers I know think le Carré is no longer a spy writer. He should have won the Booker Prize a long time ago. It’s time he won it and it’s time he accepted it. He’s in the first rank.«
Ian McEwan (Sweet Tooth) tells Jon Stock about the pleasure of writing a spy novel with a twist – and why he believes it’s high time John le Carré (A Delicate Truth) won the Booker Prize. Read the interview and portrait at The Telegraph.
»Nothing gives you your self-confidence back like 350,000 people downloading your book. (…) The sales figures are updated in real time and it was really addictive. I had to ration myself to only checking them after a day on the farm.«
- James Oswald
Tom Rowley with a portrait about James Oswald, a Scottish farmer, who became a successful crime writer. Read more at The Telegraph.
»Film Freak is Fowler’s brisk, chatty memoir about his early days trying to get into the business, after a youth spent devouring all the all-night film screenings London used to offer. He’s upfront about calling it “a mirror-maze of mercifully forgotten entertainments”, rather than a rose-tinted walk down memory lane, and yet the book’s true appeal, whether he admits it or not, hinges on the curious nostalgia value of trash.«
Tim Robey grabs the popcorn and settles into an entertaining, behind-the-scenes account of film culture in the Seventies. He reviews Film Freak by Christopher Fowler, best known as the author of the Bryant & May detective novels. Read more at The Telegraph.
Master of espionage John le Carré returns to his British spy roots in his new novel, A Delicate Truth, published today. A video trailer at The Telegraph.
»Indeed with this book she’s both rattling at, and slipping through, the bars of fiction. Life hurts just like this, and sometimes you will be screaming at fate and sometimes you’ll get on with it. Savour those moments when disaster is averted and you find yourself laughing with uncomplicated joy, as Ursula does when she shakes off her worry that happy scenes will fall apart.«
Kate Atkinson’s virtuoso new novel Life After Life is a real contender for the Women’s Prize, argues Helen Brown. Her review you can read at The Telegraph.