Sunday 20 November 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 20/11/11

In The BoSS this week, in an order of sorts: the creator of Midsomer Murders gives the Conan Doyle canon a whirl... I see the Clockwork Century is still ticking over, and I sigh... a wanted ad for one last dragonslayer to kill the last dragon in all the lands... vampires, zombies, and vampires versus zombies... and the literary equivalent of Event Horizon, at long last!

I mean, we've all been waiting, haven't we?


The House of Silk
by Anthony Horowitz

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/11/11
by Orion

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.

Intrigued by the man's tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase - the House of Silk - a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society itself...

With devilish plotting and excellent characterisation, bestselling author Anthony Horowitz delivers a first-rate Sherlock Holmes mystery for a modern readership whilst remaining utterly true to the spirit of the original Conan Doyle books. Sherlock Holmes is back with all the nuance, pace and powers of deduction that make him the world's greatest and most celebrated detective.

My Thoughts: Right up until this review copy of The House of Silk hit my doorstep, I had hummed and hawed about whether or not I actually had any interest in reading the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes, as imagined by Anthony Horowitz, the children's author behind baby Bond (AKA Alex Rider). Then it was here and it was all lovely and, as it happened, yes, I did have an interest.

Now I only wish there was another new Sherlock Holmes novel that I could hum and haw about in place of this terrific little tribute!

If you keep an eye on the front page of this week, you should see my review go live on the site sooner rather than later, but I'll remind you when it's time.

by Cherie Priest

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 27/10/11
by Tor

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig — a supply run for the Seattle Underground — will be paid for by sap money.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early — but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for — or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it... if only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River... if only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it. But it’s these “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

My Thoughts: From Holmesian highs to clockwork lows, The BoSS is a thrill a minute, innit?

I'm not being disingenuous when I say that I might very well read and review Ganymede, the third in the pseudo-steampunk series Cherie Priest began with Boneshaker and continued in Dreadnought, but understand that if I do, I do so out of some foul combination of my need to finish all those things I start and morbid bloody curiosity, because - I'm sorry - I know most everyone else loves them, but these are not good books. That they've been trumpeted about the way they assuredly have been makes me bitter and suspicious about all sorts of things, in fact.

Anyway... onwards and upwards!

The Last Dragonslayer
by Jasper Fforde

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 15/10/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in magic release form B1-7g.

Then the magic started fading away.

Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for soothsayers and sorcerers. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and even magic carpets are reduced to pizza delivery.

So it's a surprise when the visions start. Not only do they predict the death of the Last Dragon at the hands of a dragonslayer, they also point to Jennifer, and say something is coming. Big Magic...

My Thoughts: I loved loved loved Shades of Grey, as you may remember if you read this review, and though the Thursday Next series hasn't grabbed me from the get-go - which isn't to say I won't give it another shot at some point - this looks immediately more up my alley. They're claiming it as YA, but I've read a bit of The Last Dragonslayer already, and I don't see how it's any more that than any of Jasper Fforde's veritable fiesta of other work.

But whatever. It's short, it's sweet, and it's already made me laugh; I'm in whatever you want to call it.

Double Dead
by Chuck Wendig

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 03/11/11
by Rebellion

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Coburn's been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he's a vampire and all, it doesn t much bother him. Or at least it didn't, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead but not dead like him, oh no. See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like brains. He's smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber him by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he's starving. And nocturnal. And more hacked-off than a bee-stung rattlesnake. The vampire not only has to find human survivors (with their sweet, sweet blood), but now he has to transition from predator to protector after all, a man has to look after his food supply.

My Thoughts: Wasn't it just the other day everyone was banging on about the cover art to Chuck Wendig's next novel, Blackbirds? Why yes, yes it was.

And then, as if by magic - summoned perhaps by the collective stampede of interest in a work of fiction no-one knows a great deal about because of what is admittedly a very pretty picture (are these really some of the same people who argue that they're not influenced by cover art?) - along came this crumpet.

I'll say I was markedly more excited to read Double Dead before I spotted the tiny Tomes of the Dead text above the title. Vampires versus zombies in a shared world that I've never yet visited? Thanks - sincerely, it's the thought that counts - but no thanks.

I'll probably wait it out for Blackbirds... in part because it has such a lovely cover. And I don't understand why there's such shame associated with admitting that.

Hull Zero Three
by Greg Bear

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/11/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: A star-ship hurtles through the emptiness of space. Its destination... unknown. Its purpose? A mystery. Its history? Lost.

Now: one man wakes up. Ripped from a dream of a new home, a new planet and the woman he was meant to love in his arms, he finds himself wet, naked, and freezing to death. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting other survivors he meets might be the greater danger.

All he has are questions. Who is he? Where are they going? What happened to the dream of a new life? What happened to the woman he loved? What happened to Hull 03? All will be answered, if he can survive. Uncover the mystery. Fix the ship. Find a way home.

My Thoughts: Mean-spirited circumstances contrived in such a way as to ensure I didn't get a copy of Hull Zero Three when it was new in the UK late last year, and I dare say I'd have been excited to read it then. But now? Now that a consensus on the book has arisen, and it seems to err on the negative? Now that I've read and found wanting Halo: Cryptum by the same author? Less excited.

You know what, though? Event Horizon. I love Event Horizon. And evidently there are others who do too - if I'd only known! - because in the blurb on Amazon, lo and behold, reference is made to the movie. And that's kind of... kind of irresistible to me. So we'll see.


Anyone else out there with a weird thing for evil Sam Neill? We should have badges!

So, I should think my reading for the week will begin with The Last Dragonslayer, end with The Weird - as it has done ever since that great and terrible beast of a thing came through the door a few weeks ago - and very possibly stop off at Hull Zero Three, if I can find the time, and the renewed inclination.


Same time same place next week, folks, then The BoSS is taking the holidays off... because honestly, it's been pretty quiet around here of late. What's with that?


  1. I am probably alone (in the blogger circuit, at least) in not having bothered with reading Priest's books in the first place. Boneshaker featured both Steampunk and zombies, two things that I have absolutely no interest in (and, in the case of zombies, actively avoid).

  2. Could you please elaborate on why you think Cherie Priest's book aren't very good?

    I haven't read any of them, but I have Boneshaker on my to-read pile, mostly because I like steampunk (don't really care about zombies, though) and because the critical reception on the blogs I read was overwhelmingly positive (for Boneshaker, at least).

  3. @ The Dude - To be fair, both books have had their moments, but broadly they've been so tedious and tired and self-congratulatory that I have no real appetite to stop-and-start through another novel along the lines of Boneshaker or Dreadnought. If you like you can read my reviews of the first in the series here...

    ... and the second samey volume here:

    Your mileage may vary, mate, particularly given that I don't have a lot of love for steampunk, as you say you do. But then and in retrospect, I really wouldn't recommend these books.