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Reading - Bad Penny Blues

This is a book by former music journalist Cathi Unsworth and is a fictionalised account of the Jack the Stripper murders in London in the late 50s and early 60s. These are seen from the point of view of a decent copper and a young clothing designer, fresh out of art school, but married and with the sixth sense. Set in Soho and Notting Hill, this book explores the tensions of the art and vice worlds.

It seems from other reviews (such as this, this and this), that this is a wonderful example of Noir writing, evoking place, menace and with a core conflict that brings loss to all those it touches.

Except I didn't really get any of that. I thought the prose was flabby, the first proper chapter starts "Dawn crept steathily", it's cliché ridden, the characters are wooden and there is no particular sense of place nor menace. The ending is pretty upbeat too. Perhaps I shouldn't have read it after Derek Raymond, even if Unsworth was a friend of his and inspired by him to write.

I finished the book but only because I was stuck in the dentist's waiting room and wanted to blot out the sound of the drilling. It didn't help much in that regard either.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
I finished reading this book about three days ago, and wish I hadn't. Your comments on the book are spot on.
Mar. 10th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
I did wonder. All the stuff on the net is massively positive so I thought I was on to a winner. I guess Ms Unsworth has many uncritical friends.

I had previously listened to a podcast in which she discussed the case and the book and all indications from that were positive too - which only made it all the more disappointing.
Mar. 10th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
I tend to be picky about what I read these days. Only so many hours in the day and all. I thought the premise of the book had promise, but I was just let down by it, especially given some of the positive reviews that I had read for it.

Ah, well, we live and learn...and move on to the next book in the queue. :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )