Research by Philip Kerr

 

Quercus Books

Dedication:

For Harry Armfield

Description: If you want to write a murder mystery, you have to do some research… In a luxury flat in Monaco, John Houston’s supermodel wife lies in bed, a bullet in her skull. Houston is the world’s most successful novelist, the playboy head of a literary empire that produces far more books than he could ever actually write. Now the man who has invented hundreds of best-selling killings is wanted for a real murder and on the run from the police, his life transformed into something out of one of his books. And in London, the ghostwriter who is really behind those books has some questions for him too…

Opening: It was the American novelist William Faulkner who once said that in writing you must kill all your darlings; it was Mike Munns – another writer, but like me, not half as good as Faulkner – who made a joke out of this quote when he telephoned my flat in Putney that Tuesday morning.

Ironical it is that this story is published ~ nine months after Prayer. The blurb for ‘Research’ includes this: a book factory publishing many bestsellers a year – so many that he can’t possibly write them himself. Heh.

‘Research’ is a standalone book with unsympathetic, two-dimensional characters and the ugliest cynicism towards the written word and mentality of readers I have ever encountered. I can’t work out if it is full-on satire or just partial but the outcome is the same, readers will be insulted.

Every behaviour has its impact.

Mainly this is an attack on all those combo authorships of test-tosh thrillers that churn out many books a year, yet Kerr is in his own firing line, two crap books in a year.

I took time out half way through just to pick up other stories to reassure myself that some authors still feel passionate about writing and care for their readers; what a breath of fresh air.

Although technically this is marginally a better book than ‘Prayer’ purely because it doesn’t bring Old Scratch out to play, ‘Research’ flat-lined out of any enjoyment factor. There wasn’t enough good stuff to make a feedback sandwich so I’ll just deliver the line: cynicism, snark, distain for readers, and authorial career suicide is not a pretty thing to witness.

3.5* March Violets (Bernard Gunther, #1)
3.5* The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther, #2)
3.5* A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther, #3)
3.5* A Quiet Flame (Bernard Gunther, #5)
1* Prayer
1* Research

Moment Of Freedom by Jens Bjørneboe

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-1966, norway, under-500-ratings, summer-2014, picaresque, noir, author-in-the-mirror, germany, jewish, nazi-related, wwii

Recommended for: Don
Read from May 02 to August 21, 2014

 

Cover image: Frans Wideberg: Selvportrett (1976) 91.5 x 76 cms oil on canvas. Property of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Photograph Morten Thorkildsen

Original title:Frihetens øyeblikk: Heiligenberg-manuskriptet

Translated from the Norwegian by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Opening: During the several years that I’ve now been a Servant of Justice, I haven’t been able to avoid acquiring a certain perspective on life.

Re-booted twice due to travelling.

Our depressed and oppressed Servant of Justice has a very prominent nickname that we are not privy too. He has teeth missing behind his beard and no-one knows he wears glasses because he only uses them for reading, and that he never does in public.

Hilarious, that is the only way to describe this, yet it is not really meant to be so as we are looking inside the author’s mind, and he commited suicide. The episodic narrative becomes more dire with each new adventure. Page 92 for instance:

In the town wall I found a narrow gate down at the end of one of the back streets, and outside was a road which was more than usually filthy. I hadn’t discovered this road before; the earth was black and moist, slippery, polluted. There was a placard nailed up on a dead tree trunk at the road’s edge: “This area is infested with…” Then followed a word I don’t understand, a monstrously long word containing something with “…ixo…”

Doesn’t that read like an old text adventure?

Have marked up the other two book as wishlist, however, unless they leap out at me and at a reasonable price, that is where they will stay. Four blackest of the black skulls.