31 Jan 2012


* Indicates an author I've previously read.

A mysterious book of prophecies, written by a sixth century Irish monk, has puzzled scholars through the ages. Foretelling wars, plagues and rebellions, the Black Book of Bran is said to have predicted the Black Death and the Gunpowder Plot. But is it the result of divine inspiration or the ravings of a madman? A hidden hoard of Saxon gold. A poisoned priest. A monk skinned alive in Westminster Abbey. Only one thing is certain: whoever comes into possession of the cursed book meets a gruesome end.
....... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue): In the early morning light, the fisherman Guleesh ventured nervously from his hut above Banna Strand in the Bay of Ballyheigue.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 301): They had painted the victim's names on a sheet, which was pinned across the front of their church. For the benefit of those who could not read, drawings of the dead lads' faces had been included, each with a skull below it, to represent death.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Now there's a question.

By the Medieval Murderers? Yes, this was a novel written by not one, not two, but six well known British crime writers who each take a turn in writing an 'act' all of which are connected by the main premise which is the book of prophecies written by a sixth century Irish monk.

Albeit with a central theme, this, when all is said and done, is a collection of short stories which, as many of you know, isn't a favourite genre of mine, but I decided to give it a go as I was interested to read something else by C.J. Sansom (I love his Shardlake series) AND, secondly, I was intrigued to read for myself just whether or not this style of writing a novel would work ....... so did it?

Hmm, I have mixed feelings about this but, on the whole, would have to say that I was quite surprised at just how well it did work.

Set in the past (apart from C.J. Sansom's offering, which, the last story in the book, was set in the not too distant future) I was quite impressed at the array of different settings, one moment I found myself in an English monastery, the next in a Tartar tent in Russia, AND then there was the way in which (most of) the authors managed to bring the events and characters to life in such a relatively short time. 

On the negative side though ..... it has to be said that some of the authors style of writing suited this book more than others which didn't make for a 'constant' read in that I found myself really enjoyed one act, finding it difficult to put the book down, only to then find myself struggling laboriously with the next act.

All in all, an interesting reading experience, not one I'm sure I'd want to repeat any time soon though, I'd recommend this as something just that little bit different.


Patti said...

As always, I love your book reviews. Like you I've never really been interested in reading short stories. I should probably give them a try.

StarTraci said...

I've never been a fan of the "collective" storytelling books but I love the premise. I think that I will check this one out.

Thanks for the review.


Kelly said...

I don't mind short stories on occasion (I'm reading a collection right now), but I can imagine using different authors writing on a central theme could have its pros and cons. Like you, I love CJ Sansom and, that alone, might make me try it. I'll put in on my wish list for future reference. Btw...I finally got Heartstone (Sansom) not long ago and plan to read it soon.

Short poems said...

Great work, I love your book reviews :)
Marinela x x

naida said...

I always enjoy your honest book reviews. This one sounds like it did end up working for you.
I've just finished reading The Lantern and can relate to both enjoying it and not liking it.

Suko said...

Petty, this does sound interesting in a unique way. Terrific, honest review, as always!

chitra said...

here to say Hello PW, Was busy with my online shop launch.

anilkurup said...

That bis great review. I have not read any books after reading your review , but I get feel that when you mean something in the review it is so. would love to read this book. The intrigues and mechanisations that are described in the ancient are a thrill

Mamakucingbooks said...

my apology again Petty. Havent been to your blog for quite some time while you never give up on me. Been rather busy with the year end and the Chinese New Year. Not much time to do anything else.

Anyway, this sounds like a good book.

Am now reading Shataram by George David Roberts. It's a good book

Amrit said...

Awesome review. Where is Monday Magic...