Friday, 8 July 2016

Spider 2-3 - Robert Vallier

 21st Century Boys’ Own for Grownups

This is an entertaining debut novel. I imagine there must have been a deep feeling of satisfaction upon completion of this work. It is a substantial piece for a debut novel. And I love debut novels. They can be the proverbial Pandora’s Box; a promise of better things to come? Or simply that one book we are all supposed to have within us? 

And this has all the hallmarks of a debut novel. The motivation of an author always interests me and never more so than the debut novel. Is it written to satisfy a need within the writer? Or is it written to satisfy the reader? Hopefully a bit of both. The debut novel usually contains an abundance of detail, an enthusiasm and exuberance of language and it seems, sometimes, that everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at the reader so keen is the writer to showcase their talent. This book is no exception. The descriptions are rich, precise and detailed.  The plot is complex and keeps you on your toes. Careful, precise reading is required to stay on top of the developments. The characters are functional but what drives the novel forward, for me, is the action. Paying homage maybe to Ian Fleming and Alistair MacClean with a little Le Carre throw in for good measure the story hurtles itself forward.

At the risk of offending the sensibilities of the politically correct, and I apologise if I do,  I will stick my neck and say that this book is probably one for the boys. If a protagonist has a gun the type and the make of the gun means nothing to me. He’s got a gun and if he uses it, it can injure and kill. It’s ‘just’ a gun!! Similarly the makes and models of other weaponry and equipment, large and small was lost on me. A helicopter is a helicopter,and a plane is a plane!!  I do appreciate the shock waves of derision that my ignorance may provoke!! But I am nothing if not fair. And I think the gender balance may have occurred to this considerate writer for there is a female protagonist to try and redress the balance and this works in part but the predominate action seems to be mostly male.

Something that struck me throughout the entire book was how visual the story was. There were times when I thought I was reading text for a movie story board, the details were very visual in their precision. And I can see this translating very well to the large or small screen. In fact I’ve already partly cast it in my head!! I am sure it would make a good action feature movie or a TV series.

Other reviewers have cited the novel as a page turner that they couldn’t put down. I can’t say that I found that for myself, hence just the fours stars, but I definitely enjoyed it. I am full of admiration for this debut and it is clear that Jim Peregrine , or JP (not to be confused with the Jack Whitehall character in Fresh Meat!) as he is known, will return in a second adventure. 

I received a copy of this book from Breakaway Reviewers.

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