How do you tell if a book has samurai in it? Don’t worry, they’ll put a katana on the cover. A book about ninjas is a little harder, since they are invisible to anyone that hasn’t just been killed by a ninja. How do you tell if a book is a thriller? Don’t worry, they’ll put a gun on the cover.
Professional protectors – the fifth profession…. get it! – Savage and Akira are teamed up to protect a travelling businessman. Things go horribly wrong and Savage is beaten to a pulp after seeing the businessman and Akira killed. Akira is also beaten to a pulp and sees the businessman and Savage killed. And so begins the twist in this David Morrell thriller.
A lot of thrillers take you from point A to point B very efficiently to the point of cliche. Some authors even churn out the same book dozens of times in this manner. The thing that keeps you coming back is the the taut writing, thrills and cool escapism. The strength of The Fifth Profession is that it starts with the standard thriller plot setup and then eschews that for a different plot entirely. It makes the entire story novel. See what I did there?
There are some annoying aspects to Morrell’s novel. David has a habit of hammering certain points and descriptions at the reader, to the point I started assuming everyone had “karate” calloused hands. To some people this could be annoying and enough to throw the book against a wall – which I wouldn’t be doing this since I read this on my iPad. To others the plotting and pacing will keep you entertained, as it did with me.
If you ever want to feel better about yourself and your life, there is nothing like reading a book with characters that have a litany of personal problems and struggles. I can’t think of too many people with serial killers for dads, so that has to make your lot in life look better.
Unlike the previous Will Trent story I read from Karin Slaughter, this novel novel is split into two timelines, one in the modern day with Will, the other in the 1970s focuses on the early career of Will’s boss, Amanda Wagner. Karin handles the multiple POVs and timelines seamlessly and I really enjoyed the trials and tribulations of Amanda’s first homocide investigation, and the insights it gave into equality. It is really odd to think that only 30-40 years ago that people would have been phoning the police to report women impersonating police officers, because the idea that women could actually do the job seemed too ridiculous. Check out the interview with Karin discussing this:
It’s good to know that society has come a long way in a generation, not that you’d notice on the Youtube comments section.
Despite enjoying this novel, the characterisation, the social insights, the murder mystery, I could only give it 3.5 stars. The only reason for this was that I’ve had a very busy time of late, with many things competing for my spare time, and this book wasn’t compelling me to pick it up and keep reading. I didn’t have to force myself to read the book, by any means, more that I wasn’t drawn to it in the way I am with my favourite reads.
I’d recommend this book for people who’ve already read some of the Will Trent series, as they’ll get more out of the story than someone new to the Will’s world.
As with most things Hank and John Green are involved with, I have become a fan of Mentalfloss. Their recent article on embarrassing things we all do was interesting, but had one point in it that made me think “what the hell is wrong with you people”.
By “you people” I obviously mean it in the pejorative dissociative sense, in that I’m not having a shot at you, or Mentalfloss, just the ubiquitous and ethereal “them” and “you”. Unless of course what I’m about to write does hit home, in which case, stop it now!
One of the items listed as an embarrassing thing that everyone does, was people claiming to have read books and watched movies they haven’t in order to appear more intelligent. I have previously discussed the list of books people claim to have read and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve haven’t read certain “classics”. I do have to admit to having claimed to have read a book I haven’t, To Kill a Mockingbird (still on my TBR pile), but that is also why I’m coming out against the practice.
And that is the point I wish to make here, there is no shame in not having read a classic book or watched a classic film. Maybe you don’t like extraordinarily long and self-indulgent wedding scenes in a movie (Deer Hunter). Maybe you don’t like novels with more than 450 main characters (War and Peace has over 500). There isn’t any shame in that. And how many “classics” have gone unread because they were in the wrong language, poorly translated, never got published, or just lucked out (John Green made mention of this recently).
Essentially we are worried about our subjective taste disagreeing with someone else’s subjective taste. The stupidity here is that we are being judged for something we haven’t done, rather than a strong opinion one way or the other on the actual topic. If we came out and said “Well, I hated 1984, it was rubbish” or conversely “Well, I loved 1984, and anyone who says it’s rubbish is a poo-poo head” we’d get into deep arguments about the relative merits of the novel. That is perfectly acceptable. But if we say “I haven’t read that one (yet)” or “Never seen it” then the response is something along the lines of calling us crazy, implying we have lived too sheltered a life, and/or that we have missed out on something great.
They could be right, of course. We may have missed out on the single most impressive book or movie ever. Our lives may be dramatically improved by reading or watching the work in question.
The reality is that it really doesn’t matter. Some people will never have enjoyed a Jack Reacher adventure, or clung to the edge of their seat reading a Matthew Reilly novel, because they have been busy reading all the “great literary works”. Who is to say that their choice of entertainment was superior? Some people prefer to watch sports: are they any less entertained?
I think we have to stop pretending that our subjective opinions are something to be ashamed of. Like what you like, don’t be ashamed to say so either. I’m always amazed at the number of closeted Buffy fans there are, which only shows how damaging this mindset of “worthiness” is.
Okay, so today I was going to dedicate a post to The Doctor and the 50 year thing, but I got side tracked with watching old episodes and this wonderful video. So instead I’m posting this interesting take on Writer’s Block by Amanda Patterson from Writers Write (original here). As per usual, my comments are in blue.
If you write one page a day you will complete a 365-page novel in a year. TA: Or 500 words a day is 182,500 words or two novels (one if you are writing fantasy, or got carried away).
You are crippling yourself by not starting to write. If it seems an overwhelming task to write a whole book, start with an opening paragraph, then a page, then a chapter. Your first sentence is the first step to being published. TA: Remember, you don’t have to start at the beginning, you can just write down the ideas you’ve had, then link them, or turn the ideas into proper sentences and paragraphs.
Most people who want to write have the belief in their creative success systematically driven out of them – by the business world, by their family, their ‘friends’ and their life experiences. TA: But don’t worry, they’ll be the first ones queuing up for a free copy of your book when it’s published. Tell them you’re busy!
If you were told you were going to die tomorrow, would you regret not having written? TA: Always good to write down the list of people trying to kill you, helps the cops no end.
These are the five most common excuses we hear at Writers Write.
Family: I have children. I’m the family taxi. I have to be there for my husband/wife. TA: Kids are there to steal your dreams and youth.
Work: I work long hours. I’m too tired after a day at the office. I have to work overtime so that we can afford a new car / bigger house. TA: Working on someone else’s dream, not yours.
Time: I’m too busy. I’ll do it tomorrow / next month / next year. I can’t write late at night / early in the morning. TA: Everyone gets 24 hours – well in a solar day at least, 23hrs 56mins in a stellar day – use them wisely!
General: I’m not inspired. I’m too old/young. I’m too tired/depressed/sick. TA: Seriously? Then just read the books others write.
Our Favourite: It’s not what you know but who you know in publishing. TA: Publishing isn’t writing, nor is it reading, nor is it the reason you write. Besides, Snookie “wrote” a book; publishers will publish all sorts of trash.
You can have your book or you can have your excuses. You can’t have both. !!!
Writing is lonely. Writing is hard work. Writing is discipline. There is no quick fix and there is no one to applaud or to criticize you. You will be your own boss and you will have to motivate and reward yourself. And after all of this you will face the possibility of rejection – the dedicated writer will not stop here.
Remember: You have permission to write badly. (In your first drafts, of course TA: or if your name is Stephanie Meyer or EL James, all your drafts and finished work are written badly)
I know it is only early into November, but I think I’ve read the best book of the year. But don’t just take my word for it, Angela Savage thinks so too. That isn’t to say you can’t take my word for it. I’m trust-worthy. Honest.
David has set himself a huge task: setting a crime novel in the sleepy city of Perth Western Australia and making the hard-boiled-thriller work. Let’s just say that I’m glad I was too young to experience the Perth David has crafted in Zero at the Bone.
If you read Angela’s review, she has summed up the story and highlighted David’s skilled writing. I’ve previously discussed David’s previous novel, Line of Sight, as being a great novel; this one is even better.
Satire is always fun. There is something so rewarding about taking the piss out of someone, something or society. The problem with satire is either that the target often doesn’t have much of a sense of humour or that the joke is just dragged out too far. One of the greatest works of satire, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, is a great example of how writers can sometimes labour a joke/point too much, whilst being absolute geniuses.
Steve’s satire of the literary industry is right on the money. From the biting examples of literary drivel, to the examples of writers and the claims by industry figures that no-ones knows anything about books, Hely has hit the mark. I’m sure if I actually read much literary fiction I’d even recognise the books and writers who were satirised.
So it pains me to give this book only 3 stars, but I really had to. There were bits I had to skim over, especially in the second half of the book. Some of the literary satire pieces were too close to the truth for me, essentially making for boring reading. And, as I have already alluded, the book relies on one joke. This is still very well done, an enjoyable read, but it does suffer the fate of many pieces of satire, hence only 3 stars from me.
At the moment I have three projects on the go. The first is the rewrites of my first novel, which I’m hoping to finish and try to find a publisher for sometime after Xmas. The second project is a sequel to the first novel. I never intended to make a series, but during the writing of the first novel I had several ideas that just needed to be written as well. The third project is a different tale entirely, not least of which is my choice of third person narrative, unlike the predominantly first person narrative of the other two. For a synopsis of my works in progress, click here.