FICTION
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LIFE

E-book and audiobook reviews: Brandon Sanderson, James Patterson, Lesley Glaister

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 January, 2015, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 January, 2015, 10:20pm

Little Egypt
by Lesley Glaister 
(read by Janice McKenzie)
Oakhill Publishing (audiobook)

British novelist Lesley Glaister has enjoyed a fine 12 months. She was one of eight winners of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, and has now seen much of her back catalogue released for audio download. Her most recent book, Little Egypt, is an ideal place to begin your Glaister explorations. Set in a recognisable present and also a vividly realised 1920s, Little Egypt is also the name of a crumbling house. It is owned by 90-year-old twins Isis and Osiris Spurling, names that hint at the Egyptological obsession of their parents. We learn that such was Arthur and Evelyn's desperation to find the tomb of Herihor, the high priest of Amun at Thebes during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses XI, that they vanished in the attempt, orphaning their twins. The mystery surrounding these events invades the present when Isis decides to sell the land, much to Osiris' disgust. Glaister's murky, moody prose is perfect for this tale of loss and decay. Janice McKenzie reads ably, bringing out Glaister's gift for plot, dialogue and tension. A fine advertisement for Glaister's talents.

 

Firefight
by Brandon Sanderson
Orion (e-book)

Brandon Sanderson has more serials than most supermarkets: his website shows four drafts in progress. Last year I reviewed Words of Radiance, the second part of The Stormlight Archive. Firefight is another second part, this time of his Reckoners youngish adult space opera. Coming after Steelheart and a short story called Mitosis, Firefight follows the mission of David Charleston. In part one he faced his fearsome adversary, Steelheart, who was partly responsible for the murder of David's father. If this was Reckoners' equivalent of Alien, part two is Aliens. David moves from Chicago (or Newcargo) to New York to face a gang of Epics - human beings who have attained superpowers, which they use for destructive ends. Sanderson's gift for narrative rather than prose suits his hopes of a younger audience. There is a great deal of silly food imagery here: first adversary Sourcefield's energy "[lights] the room like a calzone stuffed with dynamite", for example. But the plot keeps you going and wondering about the climactic part three.

 

Private Vegas
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro 
(read by Jay Snyder)
Random House
(audiobook)

"Lori Kimball had three rules for the death race home. One, no brakes. Two, no horn. Three, beat her best time by ten seconds, every day." James Patterson, here helped by Maxine Paetro, could be talking about his own whizz-bang prose style. "One, no brakes" and "two, no horn" are both complete paragraphs, at least in the Patterson universe. It could just as easily work to describe the exhausting work rate of the world's richest novelist. The middle of January feels like a long wait for Patterson's first complete novel. Private Vegas features Jack Morgan, the private investigator whose imaginatively named company, Private Investigations, caters to the world's wealthiest miscreants. And if anywhere can lay claim to being the capital of wealthy miscreants then Las Vegas is that place. Morgan pursues Gozan Remari and Khezir Mazul to the city of sin only to find himself in glitter-encrusted trouble. Add to these his nasty twin and troublesome ex-wife. Jay Snyder is the perfect Patterson interpreter, sounding out of breath by the end of a four-word sentence.