Six Very Short Reviews

From the last week or so.

Three films:

  • The Predator. Shane Black attempts to out-Shane Black Shane Black, and overcooks it at a couple of points. Takes the mythology to interesting places, but suffers for an almost total lack of likeable characters.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden Kingdom. Not going to lie, I love these films. This is my favourite since the first one, and a well-executed concluding chapter. The design of the dragons is as brilliant as ever.
  • Peelers. Sort of zombie-fied patrons tear into everyone in a small-town strip club. You get what you expect going in to this one, plus surprisingly charming relationships between the various staff and customers. Lots of splatter and the occasional icky moment. If that’s your kind of thing then this is a decent watch.

Three short novels (novellas? I’m a bit hazy on where to draw that line):

  • The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch. The Rivers of London/Peter Grant books are right up my street, and I’ve enjoyed them all. That goes for this instalment, too, which introduces us to Grant and the Folly’s German counterparts. I’d like to see more of them in the future. Can we hope for a novel featuring some awkward international cooperation? Like most of the Rivers books, this rattles along in bright colours and enjoyable moments, with the author’s usual attention to the detail of police practice and procedure. (I assume he gets the details right, anyway. It’s very convincing and I wouldn’t know any better.)
  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson. From the blurb on Amazon: “For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.”. I don’t want to go further than that for fear of spoiling things, but this near-future-set book goes deep on the effect the creepy premise has on Molly and her family. Highly, highly recommended.
  • Ragged Alice by Gareth Powell. Our third tale of unsettling, fantastical murder, this one is all atmosphere. The setting pulls you right in to the grey of the off-season seaside town, but I wish it was a bit longer and allowed a bit more time to get to the know the main characters. If it wasn’t so rushed there might not have been so many threads left hanging, too. Still worth a couple of hours of your time, though.

I accidentally stumbled into reading those three books one after the other. There are threads of genre and theme that run through them and make them even more interesting when put alongside each other. They have three very different styles and push different buttons, and the crime-and-policing-involving-the-supernatural is a favourite sub-genre of mine. These each connect with that in different ways, that I enjoyed.