Thursday, September 13, 2012

Les Edgerton and Real Life...

So, I've only just finished reading Les Edgerton's The Perfect Crime. It's full of excellent characters, principally the ex-cop hunting down his brother's killer, and the deranged, psychotic but brilliant career criminal who's convinced he's come up with the foolproof way to rob a bank. Strap explosives to the manager and make him do it.

In an interesting little postscript, Les notes how the book was nearly derailed permanently by publishers, but that at the time he wrote it in the 90s, he was pretty sure it was an original idea. Since then of course, it's been seen in movies and in real life, such as the case noted by Stephen Blackmoore on his LA Noir blog just the day after I finished the book.

What I found really interesting is at the bottom of the news article he linked to: apparently in 2003 a pizza delivery dude pretended to have been kidnapped and forced into robbing a bank. Unknown to him, the fake bomb he wore was not entirely fake, and he was killed when his 'friends' detonated it. Now that really is deceitful, cruel, and evil.

In fact, it sounds just like the bank robber in Les Edgerton's The Perfect Crime, who has a similar plan to get away without having to do any of that pesky 'sharing the proceeds'.

And so we come full circle. Nice and neat.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Long Walk - Stephen King

To be honest, I've never been a huge Stephen King fan.

Some of you may want to read that again. I know that lots of people (readers and writers) consider such a statement heresy, or at best the musings of a madman, or simply wrong. I even understand why people think that.

I guess I just took a wrong step on King Road. As a young reader (I'm going to guess somewhere between 10 and 13) I remember picking up a hefty tomb*, reading about a hundred pages to find that little of significance had happened, and putting it down to read something more exciting. I didn't pick up many King books again after that, although both my brothers are heavily into the King/Koontz/Herbert kind of thing. It simply didn't grab me, although I remember enjoying some of his short stories about the same age. Whether or not I'd enjoy him now I don't know.

A couple of years later I do remember reading, devouring in fact, a single volume collection of the Bachman books. And of those, the one that stood out in my mind, that still sticks in my mind, was The Long Walk. Quite simply, it blew me away. I love how little it gives away, and how utterly simple is the focus. There's no twists and turns, just characters moving towards an end that we are told about at the beginning.

It is also inexorably dark. One of the darkest books I've ever read, still.

The Long Walk is one of the books, and one of the first, that utterly changed my conceptions of what a novel could be, and what a novel could do. I love that a one sentence description of the book is also the entire plot. I didn't know you could do that, before I read it. I never even imagined it. The images it conjured in my head have never left.

James Smythe reviews The Long Walk here, as part of the Rereading Stephen King series in the Guardian. Well worth checking out.

*Offhand, I think it was Tommyknockers. I could be wrong.