Posted by: billpurdue | November 27, 2008

32 A spot of action….

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m not normally one for the thrillers, but recently I changed the habit of a lifetime and picked up The Judas Strain by James Rollins [ Orion £6.99 9780752893808 ] It was a shot in the dark as I haven’t come across this author before (I must be out of touch with the action and adventure genre – Mr Rollins already has 8 titles under his belt and his latest is The Last Oracle [ Orion £12.99 9780752889337 ]. According to his website, the author, a vet by trade, and who likes exploring caves and scuba diving is the “indiana Jones of the fiction realm”. Earlier this year James Rollins released the novelization of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull [Harper-Collins Children’s Books £4.99 9780007276783 ]

Anyway The Judas Strain has a very complicated plot involving a mystery disease that has the potential to wipe out the human race and is affecting wildlife too (echoes of The Andromeda Strain ? ). It appears to make normally harmless bacteria in the human body turn on their host in a very destructive way. It first came to light at the time of Marco Polo whilst he was on his way back to Europe after spending many years in China. Two factions are on the trail of a cure – a secret US government agency and a mysterious worldwide terrorist organisation called The Guild. It all revolves around some writings in angelic sript- invented in the sixteenth century as a means of communicating with angels – which form a trail of clues across the world eventually leading to the source of the disease in Vietnam. The way the action switches quickly from one location to another really keeps you on your toes. I can see where the “Indiana Jones” bit comes in. it’s a thrilling page turner, though I felt ever so slightly let down almost at the end. it seemed to me that too many loose ends were tied up too quickly, but then again perhaps it’s me! James Rollins is an American author of course and his style did puzzle me sometimes. One little word did niggle: the word “atop” is rarely used over here ( except I suppose when one wants to be a bit poetic), but in this book it seems to be used instead of “above”, “on top of” and even where the word “on” would do just as well. Probably it’s just something I need to get used to.

For Radio 4 fans

If you are a regular listener to BBC Radio 4, it can’t have escaped your notice that last year – 2007 – marked the 40th birthday of the radio station. It doesn’t seem 5 minute since we had the old Home Service. I remember the special anniversary programmes on radio 4, but I wasn’t aware of any books being published. And now on Radio 4 [ Arrow £8.99 9780099505372 ] was compiled to coincide with the anniversary and it’s by Simon Elmes, Creative Director of the BBC’s Radio Documentary Unit. Starting with the Today programme and working its way through the Radio 4 day, Simon Elmes relates the origins of all the regular programmes, not forgetting Woman’s Hour (remember all the hoo-ha when it was decided to move it from 2 pm to 10 am?) and The Archers, which has a chapter all of its own. lesser known programmes like the short-lived urban soap Citizens (1987-91) are not forgotten, though most of us have forgotten that one by now, I should think… and then there was all that fuss about Long Wave in the early 1990s. In fact all Radio 4 life is there. If you like the sound of that, then it might also be worth looking at Life on Air: a history of Radio Four by David Hendy [ OUP £14.99 9780199550241 ].

More detectives

We’ve had Morse, Frost, Dalziel and Pascoe, Wexford and countless others on the telly – get ready for another TV detective named Kurt Wallander. Henning Mankell‘s Swedish detective books already have legions of fans: it will be interesting to see how Kenneth Branagh portrays Wallander in the three films beginning this Sunday, November 30th on the Beeb. Read more at the Guardian website

Coming soon –

How fast do you read ?  My suggestion for Christmas books and an interview with Stephen Booth

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