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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 3 May 2018

"Research" by Philip Kerr

Best-selling author John uses an 'atelier' of ghost writers including Don, who narrates the first part of this book. When John's wife is found shot in his fancy Monaco apartment and John disappears the Monagesque police come to London to interview Don. Whodunnit? And then John skypes Don pleading ignorance and asking for help.

About half way through the book we discover the true identity of the killer and the whodunnit turns into a thriller as John and Don flee across the south of France in a borrowed Bentley, stopping only at fine restaurants and luxurious hotels.

This has all the hallmarks of the wish-fulfillment thriller. The Monagesque police interview Don over lunch at Claridges in the course of which they drink two bottles of expensive wine. No opportunity to name drop is passed up: for example, we learn that posh luggage has identity codes on metal plates sewn into the insides and that it is difficult to sell a second-hand million pound watch encrusted with black diamonds without the box. One of the more endearing habits is the way Don continually quotes from books he has read and loved. But mostly this is boy's stuff: the women are there to shag, to betray, to be betrayed by, and to shop.

There was some good advice about how to write a thriller:

  • "Words only appear to be your friends; but you should think of them as the speed bumps on your page; they can slow the story down as much as they can keep it bowling along." (p 39)
  • "Cliches ... are the verbal particle accelerators to finishing books." (p 40)
  • "If you want to use similes and metaphors then go and write fucking poetry." (p 40)
  • "It was Picasso's genius to know exactly what you could leave out of a painting." (p 65)
  • "That's the thing about writing people just don't understand. It's about making yourself so bored that there's nothing else to do except to write." (p 154)
  • "Travel might broaden the mind but it means you get less writing done." (p 353)

Other great quotes:

  • "It doesn't matter where the fuck you come from; what matters is where you're going." (p 53)
  • "No one ever takes the stairs in our building. Most of the other residents would need a defibrillator if they climbed into their beds a bit too quickly." (p 127)
  • "You would always be getting into scrapes as long as you believed that you did things to girls instead of with them." (p 139) Not that this author takes his own advice judging from his entirely passive female characters.
  • "For a few moments it felt as if we two were at peace and had become so unmoored from the realities of everyday life that we were floating high above the rest of the world. Then again, that's how most writers feel, most of the time." (p 246)
  • "Zero sugar philosophy for muppets." (p 258)
  • "I'm the kind of person who if ever I were asked on Desert Island Discs would much prefer to be cast away with eight books instead of eight records. Music I can live without, but reading, no." (p 274)
  • "The place is about as shallow as a Martini glass." (p 356)

May 2018; 373 pages

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