Saturday, October 30, 2010

I just finished Djibouti by Elmore Leonard.

Going further afield than Leonard normally does, Djibouti is set in the Horn of Africa area, and involves filmmakers, vigilantes and terrorists with his usual tough guy bravado throughout.

It also has him doing something else unusual, playing with the narrative structure.  Part of the novel is told in pseudo-flashback form, as the filmmakers review some of their footage and Leonard weaves in the events that were going on around the time the footage was taken.  This gimmick doesn't work very well, just creating confusion about where/when the narrative is, and Leonard abandons it after a few chapters.

Leonard's usual distinctive dialogue also doesn't work as well here.  Usually Leonard's dialogue, like that of David Mamet, feels real even though it isn't realistic at all.  In the beginning of this book, it doesn't feel real at all.

By the end, Leonard is more in his comfort zone, as various tough guys confront each other, and the novel is much stronger and more interesting, but the trip to get there isn't very interesting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I just finished The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman.

This is the fourth book in the Sally Lockhart series, even though Sally only appears in a few cameos.

It features the return of a character from The Ruby in the Smoke, Adelaide, who was presumed dead.  She's reunited with Jim, and then becomes the princess, then queen of a small European country caught between Germany and Austria.

It's a worthy sequel, full of the same great characters and conflict as the other books.