Sometimes you come across a book and even as you’re reading it, almost glued to the page, you’re thinking ‘gosh I wish I could write like this!‘ Then there comes a sad little thought close on the heels of the first one – ‘I’ll never write as well as this!’
Another sometimes… Sometimes you recommend a beloved book/author to someone else; you recommend it with stars in your eyes… and then all comes crashing down when your friend not only hates the book, but manages to put over why they really don’t like it, thus spoiling it forever for you. Sometimes a friend recommends one of their precious favourite books, their eyes sparkling with the anticipation of how you too will fall in love and carry it close to your heart forever… you hate it, you think it’s poorly written, the opposite of engaging, boring… in fact you might not be able to finish it – might not get past the first few chapters! How oh how do you tell your friend and break their bookish heart?
A friend recommended a book, recommended it rather anxiously as he thought I might not like it. I bought it and then he asked tentatively if I had started reading it yet. I hadn’t, I was wading (yes, wading) through a book club choice which once again I felt I had failed at by not enjoying it.
Book club book finished, discussed and consigned to the never read again pile, I started on my friend’s recommendation.
I was immediately hooked, immediately drawn in, although at first I was not sure at all where I was going, or where the story was going. I was gripped, such good writing, so intriguing… the narrator changed and so did the style, and still gripping and intriguing, but this time with laugh-out-loud parts. The story changed again, a different plot, different characters, and then yet another scenario with new people, unconnected to the others.
Now in the past, I confess I have struggled with novels which jump from place to place, person to person, dilemma to dilemma, but with this, the writing was so good, the different voices so clear and recognisable, I was completely able to hold all the various narrative juggling balls in the air.
I am about a third, nearly halfway through it, trying not to read it too quickly and miss the clever way it’s written, the wonderful – even lyrical way the language is arranged and played with.
I assumed the writer was American – but no, although he spent time in America, he is English! He is Michael Marshall, also known as Michael Marshall Smith. The book I am reading is ‘The Straw Men’ and although it is a stand alone novel it is part of a trilogy:
The Straw Men I
The Lonely Dead II
Blood of Angels III
You have probably gathered by now that I whole-heartedly recommend this book… and I’m looking forward to reading not only the others in the trilogy, but other books by Michael Marshall/Marshall Smith.