This month I’ve caught a diverse bunch of fishes in my literary trawling net – here is a sample of the menu.
Practical Demonkeeping – Christopher Moore
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve long been a devotee of the work of Terry Pratchett. Now – am I comparing Christopher Moore to him? No, not really. But then for me, nobody really compares and to do so is pretty unfair. However, that’s not to say I didn’t massively enjoy this book. If you were to draw a line between Pratchett and Carl Hiaasen then Christopher would sit squarely in the middle and that’s definitely no bad thing. His writing gives evocative characters and a story that rattles along at a great pace. This was my first of his books but it definitely won’t be the last. It’s a joyous explosion of witty writing and delightfully big ideas that crucially, form themselves into a story that you always want to know the ending to while enjoying the ride.
Playing The Martyr – Ian G. Moore
I didn’t know what to expect from this book and what I found was a delightful surprise. Ian Moore is a comedian friend of mine who has written a couple of brilliant books about his experiences of moving himself and a young family to live in rural France. In this new venture though he’s added a G to his name and a new string to his bow. Playing the Martyr is a murder mystery set in rural France and while it’s written with a light touch and a lovely turn of phrase, Ian isn’t looking for laughs here. What I particularly enjoyed about it was the fascinating insights it gives into how the criminal justice system works in France which is very different to anything I’ve experienced before.
The Mastermind – Evan Ratliff
I’m not a massive consumer of non-fiction as a rule but I heard the author of this book, the journalist Evan Ratliff, on a podcast and the story he was telling was so amazing I had to find out more. Paul LeRoux is a truly extraordinary character. If the story was just about how a technically brilliant programmer who invented software worth millions but made nothing from it, only to then set up his own billion dollar quasi-legal business selling cheap prescription drugs in america over the internet – then that in itself would be fascinating. However, what really makes this an incredible read is what happens next. The man had a grey-area empire worth about as much as Facebook and then he decided he wanted to be a Bond villain. He started dealing in arms, Class A drugs as well as incredibly, creating his own army in Somalia, as well as mercenary hit squads. This book is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever read, not least because there are no obvious answers as to what makes a man take the path LeRoux did.