E-books and audiobooks

E-book and audiobook reviews: Irvine Welsh, Jeffrey Archer, and Jo Nesbo

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 10:51pm

A Decent Ride
by Irvine Welsh
(read by Tam Dean Burn)
Random House

One day perhaps Irvine Welsh will write a novel about a charity worker who, like, helps people and is nice to them. But not just yet. After last year's sado-masochistic adventures in Miami with The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, he returns with 2015's walk on the wild side. The first thing to note is A Decent Ride returns Welsh to Edinburgh, home to so many of his finest moments - Trainspotting and The Marabou Stork Nightmares to name just two. Terry Lawson, known by the soubriquet "Juice", has already graced one Welsh novel, Glue, and here he is older but not much wiser and certainly no sadder. Blessed with the gift of the gab among other advantages, Terry picks up women left, right and centre. But it is finding a male millionaire called Ronald in the back of his cab that promises to change Terry's life. Terry and Ronald dominate, but there are sub-plots, including one involving a prostitute. Tam Dean Burn has great fun with the dark-hearted comedy, moving from smooth narration to Terry's explosive utterances and wild imaginings. A decent ride indeed.


As the Crow Flies
by Jeffrey Archer
(read by John Lee)
Pan MacMillan

Caveat emptor: As the Crow Flies is not a new Jeffrey Archer but an old one. Of course, one might argue, a new Archer is almost inevitably similar to an old Archer - something that As the Crow Flies illustrates on almost every page. Our hero, for example, is the sort of hard-working, ambitious but disadvantaged soul that tends to be mistaken for, well, Jeffrey Archer. Having made a start on his fruit and vegetable stall, Charlie is delayed by the first world war where, it almost goes without saying, he is a hero. He also meets a friend named Tommy, which is a little like calling a cowboy Tex or a bad Jedi Darth. He also encounters his own nasty Vader - a posh type named Guy Trentham, whose path he will cross over and over again. Trentham, it also almost goes without saying, attempts to steal Charlie's girl, Rebecca, who luckily recants in time to realise that Charlie will soon be to fruit and veg what, well, Jeffrey Archer is to fiction. John Lee gives his reading some Dick Van Dyke as in Mary Poppins. "Dan Salmon, who oh-wned the bakah's shorp." Van Dyke and Archer? A perfect fit.


Blood on Snow
by Jo Nesbo
(read by Patti Smith)
Random House

First things first. Yes, THAT Patti Smith. Patti Horses Smith, Patti Just Kids Smith. Wow. To be honest, I had gone off Jo Nesbo's more recent work. Headhunters (2011) was fantastic but it has been slightly downhill from there thanks to reissues of his not-that-great first novels and a below par recent Harry Hole. But Patti Smith? You have my interest. How to describe her voice? A drawling Geiger counter? A tiny skateboard across gravel? Someone who has belted out Gloria, Land and Redondo Beach more times than its owner cares to mention? Wondrously, she fits our hero, Olav, like a glove. Olav is a fixer which means he knows every angle almost before he is asked to straighten it. Remote but smart, he keeps a close watch on his heart, until he falls for his boss' wife. This is where the trouble starts, for Olav and the reader. We have been here many times before, not least in Pulp Fiction. Nesbo's increasing reliance on other stories - he alludes to Les Miserable for example - is hinted by the cliché of the title. Still, Patti lends gravitas and gravel. I could listen to her all day every day.