E-books/audiobooks: fiction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 November, 2014, 8:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 November, 2014, 8:27pm

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
by Eimear McBride
Faber & Faber

December is the quietest month, at least where publishing is concerned. This does offer the chance to review any books and audiobooks that have slipped through my fingers. No novel has made a bigger splash this year than Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which has won a dazzling array of prizes. Unsuspecting readers might, on downloading McBride's own gorgeous, sensitive reading of her novel, think they have something wrong with their computer. "For you. You'll soon. You'll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she'll wear your say." McBride writes in short sentences, breaking up sense, or rather allowing it to accrue from heaps of broken fragments. The sense of loneliness, menace, of something about to happen seeps from her smooth, finely modulated rendering. It is an unflinching portrait of a formative consciousness - a young girl growing up in a vaguely outlined Ireland. But the sharpness of the perceptions are breathtaking.


The Double Bind of Mr Rigby
by Brian Martin
Arcadia Books

The Double Bind of Mr Rigby, Brian Martin's third novel, is a nicely crafted, if slightly old-fashioned, thriller. The plot takes a while to warm up. The opening chapters contain a lot of say rather than do. We learn that Pelham Rigby is an investigative journalist working for the "London Journal". "Organised crime does not like inquisitive people and is prepared to be utterly ruthless," he says glibly. Having cracked a scam in New Zealand, Rigby is pursuing the shady head of Myrex Inc, beginning in Seville. He has also begun an affair with Roxanne, "the wife of the company's proprietor and chairman". This was "not altogether wise", but she was impossible to resist. The premise is lacking in drama, but Martin injects energy when Rigby heads to Estonia along with Myrex's nasty Spanish CEO and several international security agencies. There is more than a hint of Ian Fleming in the loving descriptions of London, international intrigue and East European locales. A pleasing, if formulaic, thriller with a nice twist.


Six Degrees of Assassination
by M.J. Arlidge
Audible Studios

It's the new craze in audiobooks. Starry dramatisations by relatively obscure writers. Take The Child by Sebastian Fitzek - yes, that Sebastian Fitzek! Now M.J. Arlidge, a jobbing if successful television and thriller writer, has produced Six Degrees of Assassination, a contender for most appalling titular pun of the year. The set-up is a slick piece of re-imagined alternative history. There are a few recognisable factual details: the 7/7 bombing of London, the ensuing coalition government. Almost everything feels like real life but isn't. For one thing, the economy has improved. For another, the prime minister is one John Campbell. He is at the height of his popularity when he is murdered by a man who simply stands in front of him and shoots him. Leading the charge for answers is Alex Cartwright, read by the cast's most famous actor, Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes on television. With a power vacuum at the top of government, Scott's detective chases the clues which lead suspiciously close to home, or at least the Houses of Parliament.