‘The Walking Dead’ Robert Kirkman Killing His Darlings

‘The Walking Dead’ Robert Kirkman Killing His Darlings

The Walking Dead, Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman have gotten the formula for success right, with the comic creator killing his darlings on the television show at opportune times. The voluntary sacrifice of Beth Greene, who does not exist in the comic verse of the dead, managed to skyrocket the mid season finale rating through the AMC roof. According to TV by the Numbers from zap2it, the viewing figures for Sunday’s episode reached 14.8 million. This particular feat is not unusual for the television show that is apparently the number one series in the country, even beating out Sunday Night Football a staggering five times this year.

Elmore Leonard Iconic Crime Novelist Dies

Elmore Leonard Iconic Crime Novelist Dies

Nightmare by Stephen Leather – A Nightingale Sings

I have to start by saying that I came late to this party. The book Nightmare is the third in what is apparently going to be a long and enjoyable series. Nightmare begins after book two Midnight has ended.

(God, I am so clever…not)

Nightmare opens with Jack Nightingale, ex-cop, private eye and inheritor of his biological satanic worshipping father’s house and it’s occult book collection being woken up and arrested at an obscenely early time in the morning. *How’s that for summing up the main character in a single sentence.*

Nightingale is accused of shooting a black gang member in the back of the head in Brixton. Their evidence is the clinically brain dead victim saying Nightingale’s name while he is in a coma. And so begins Jack Nightingale’s third adventure in a world inhabited by bad people, demons and ‘experts’ in the occult.

The beauty of this book was that I could pick it up and read it without having read the other two books in the series. The action moves quickly and snappily. I immediately got connected with all the main characters and found myself cheering Jack on.

Stephen Leather is one of those unique authors that has that all important ear for dialogue. I would go so far as to put him in the same category as Elmore Leonard, who is a master  at dialogue. Leather’s characters talk like real people. And more importantly, since most of them live and work in London, sound like they belong there.

English: Elmore Leonard, Miami Book Fair Inter...
English: Elmore Leonard, Miami Book Fair International, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He also has gotten the ‘gangster speak’ down pat. At one point in the book Jack has to deal with a drugs gang and the lingo is spot on.

The book is busy. Not only does Jack have the police trying to pin a murder on him he also has a drugs gang who want him dead. He has two demons who want his soul and want him to make him pay up for a deal made in book two Midnight.

I felt that Jack Nightingale could be a real as you or me. He drinks, he smokes and he loves Chinese food. He is also smart and resourceful. But above and beyond all that, he carries on with his life and job despite having more crap dumped on top of him than most people could endure.

Unfortunately the ending, which was nail biting up to a point, yanked me right out of the moment. It was a device I had seen used in the films Bedazzled and Constantine .  Okay, it worked for the story, but, if I’ve seen it before it takes a little bit out of the punch.

Still it was not enough to put me off the story, it just took a little out of the ending. It definitely did not put me off enough to not want to read the first two books in the series and want another new one to read. Preferably sooner rather than later.

So If I used a star system (I don’t), this book would have still gotten a good four and a half stars out of five. But since I don’t use a star system, I’ll just say it’s a flipping good read and one that I would recommend to anyone.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay: The Three Stages

I have not gotten this excited about an author since I got sent a Stephen King book as a Book Club “Choice of the Month” in 1979. I had never heard of King before, but the book – The Stand (and can you think of a better introduction to Kings work, than The Stand?) was huge and had a cover with a dwarf dressed as some sort of knight who was engaged in battle with some big thing.  Despite this inauspicious start, I opened the book and started reading. I did not stop until I had finished the book, I then re-read it. I have in fact re-read the book many times since then. I became a huge King fan, and yes Stevie I would read your shopping list if you so chose to write it.

I have now found a new writer to fall in love with, well with her words and her stories, Suzanne Collins. After reading the first instalment  in her trilogy, The Hunger Games, I ran down and bought the other two books in the series. I read the last two in such a state of concentration that the house could have burned down and I would not have noticed. In fact I read all three books in three days. Just in case your math skills are a little rusty, that works out to a book a day friends and neighbours.

With each book weighing in at around five hundred pages per novel, that is some heavy duty reading. And before you ask, no I have never taken a speed reading course, I just read really fast. Ask my first wife, she knows. The point I am trying to make, by going the “the long way around the barn” is this. Suzanne Collins, to me anyway has joined the short list of authors that can take me fully into the world that she has created.

That’s right, I said short list of authors.

King, always; with the exception of Carrie, I had a hard time dealing with the last of the book, with it’s press clippings and interviews. John D. MacDonald, always, especially if it was a Travis McGee book. Elmore Leonard, Always, no exceptions, Ed McBain, no exceptions; I really miss the guys at the 87th precinct. I could probably make a list of writers that could fill a good sized paragraph, but it would still be short compared to the amount of published writers that currently exist.

In a time where the mass production of the Kindle has caused ebooks to start selling like hotcakes, thereby giving exposure to a host of mediocre writers, Collins shines like a beacon. Oh how brightly she shines. In my opinion, her books should be taught in school, not Stephanie Meyer’s dreadful Twilight series. Twilight with it’s lackadaisical heroine and the poor writing style. The female protagonist in her books is so wishy washy, so lacklustre and the books themselves so sophomorically written…Sorry, but I think you can catch my drift here.

These three books are brilliantly written. Collins has given us a positive role model for a female heroine. The stories themselves serve us a powerful message: “The new boss is the same as the old boss.” Or in layman’s terms, power corrupts and we really shouldn’t trust anyone who has absolute power.

I am not going to bother going over plot points. I won’t go into any discussions about characters and their arcs. I will say one thing about Suzanne Collins’ books.

Read them, all of them.