The Storm Watcher By Graham Joyce Reviewed by Steve Rudd
Simultaneously an unusual and extraordinary story set in France, a multitude of winning
elements ensure that The Storm Watcher is always an engrossing read, as sheer drama is
played up against some chilling thrills and spills.
The author in the award-winning Joyce grew up in Coventry, but over the years he has
lived in various places, such as on a couple of Greek islands and in the Middle East.
He sets The Storm Watcher in the seemingly innocent countryside of the
peace- and-quiet-adorned Dordogne region, and focuses on a couple of couples,
and a 'friend' of the one of the couples - along with one of the couple's two
daughters to boot.
All of them have left England for their summer holiday, and initially everybody
seems to be getting on with each other, despite one of the girls' strange behaviour.
She's the oldest of the two sisters and is called Jessie, with much of the drama and
ensuing action of the story ultimately revolving around her.
Still, there is a huge amount of tense melodrama that develops between all the
adults, as Joyce skilfully concedes that one of the adults - James - is something
of an ego-maniac who 'buys his friends.' Even his wife has come to despise him.
This startling novel will appeal to fans of many genres.
It's packed with drama, just as it is with intriguing references to supernatural realms as
Jessie 'converses' with an 'instructor' who advises her on allsorts of matters,
just as she's coincidentally entering puberty and is right on the threshold of
beginning her periods.
All of the events lead up to a suspenseful episode in which James literally disappears for a
few days without a word, before he turns up much farther down South near the Pyrenees.
Still, the ultimate climax does come right near the end of the story (as it really
should in all novels), when Jessie's younger sister Beth proceeds to do a runner,
into the sanctuary of a nearby corn field: in search of angels.
Little does she know, however, that the whopping sounds that she mistakes for
approaching sword-wielding angels are in fact the revolving blades of an
approaching combine harvester...
Such a climax genuinely sets the pulse racing, providing the metaphorical
icing on the cake of a must-read novel from a hugely talented writer, who
has also written acclaimed works The Tooth Fairy, Indigo and Dreamside.
Reviews, Books - Bowie : Loving The Alien By Christopher Sandford Reviewed by Steve Rudd
Rock writer Christopher Sandford sure doesn't beat around the bush when it comes
to writing highly detailed and thoroughly engrossing biographies of some of the
biggest names in rock music.
As well as having written this mini-masterpiece about Bowie, he's also dedicated
huge swathes of time and energy to documenting the fascinating lives and times of
Reviews, Books - Lunar Park By Bret Easton Ellis Reviewed by Steve Rudd
This has to have been one of the most extraordinary and surprising books published
in 2005, simply because it has been written by the hugely controversial author
of American Psycho - and because the form that Lunar Park
takes is so jaw-droppingly unexpected.
Bret Easton Ellis is one clever man, as revealed by the way in which this
Reviews, Books - Surfacing By Margaret Atwood Reviewed by Steve Rudd
Poetry and prose. Two separate entities, right? Wrong! Surfacing bears full-frontal,
gob-gawping witness to that as one of the most important novels of the 20th century
(according to the New York Times anyroad) in this bizarre beauty naturally glides
with sheer poetry within rasping prose.
Set in remote Quebec, this super slow-burning drama shadows a young
Reviews, Films - Welcome to Silent Hill By Margaret Ryan
A deliciously dark film of fear mongering, Silent Hill takes you on a terrifyingly absurd quest. Where to? That is a question this film doesn't answer, but enjoys twisting round you to find it. Of course playing the game helps understand this film.
I found the game itself to be relatively arbitrary and linear, rather like this film. However, the game is foreboding and visually
Reviews, Books - Magic Hoffman by Jakob Arjouni Reviewed by Steve Rudd
'We were young then, as if getting older were some kind of illness for which there was no cure.'
Magic Hoffman, the novel, is translated from the German original and follows
the captivating story of Fred and his best friends Nickel and Annette.
Following a botched bank heist, Fred serves 4 years' porridge and - as any friend would do - refrains from dobbing his mates in. Anyway,
Reviews, Films - An American Haunting (15) By Margaret Ryan
Possession? On rental, probably.
Call yourself a horror movie fan? Perhaps you'll get something from this.
Not particularly focused on horror movies? Then you may still enjoy it.
Imagine The Exorcist set in 1800s God-fearing America over the period of several weeks.
The premises for this film look awesome on paper.
Taking into account you've watched the trailer,
Reviews, Books - Stuart MacBride - Dying Light (HarperCollins) Published 2nd May 2006 Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
Dying Light is the eagerly anticipated second novel from new crime-fiction hotshot,
and follows sharply on the heels of last year's critically acclaimed debut, Cold Granite.
Once again following the story of Detective Sergeant Logan 'Lazarus' McRae, Dying Light opens
with him set to cement his position as the rising star of Aberdeen's CID.
Reviews, Films - The Dark (15) By Margaret Ryan
Clever psychological horror, perhaps too clever?
This clever psychological horror film perhaps lets itself down by being too clever? If you enjoy the blurred boundaries of the supernatural/subconscious, however, this is a well-paced, atmospheric film about a couple losing their daughter, only to believe they can bring her back from the dead.
There are criticisms, however, that
Reviews, Books - The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster Reviewed by Steve Rudd
One should never underestimate the power of books.
New York-obsessed Paul Auster is back, and he's clearly writing better than ever in light of this astounding novel of epic and forever-surprising proportions.
Paul was born back in 1947, and since 1974 he's rightfully become a widely acclaimed writer of novels, screenplays and poetry ... amongst other things.
Reviews, Films - The Road to Guantanamo, Channel 4, Thursday 9th March 06 By Patrick Henry
Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross's work is hardly like anything else ever shown on television, which makes it remarkable and welcome, though not to The New Statesman's reviewer who complains of its deficiencies, TV-wise, and that it fails to inform about the political attitudes of the protagonists or the real nature of Camp X-Ray and as a road movie lacks amusement.
Reviews, Books - Mission Flats by William Landay Reviewed by Steve Rudd
Crime-thrillers come no better than this edge-of-the-seat masterwork from American
writer William Landay, who here delivers a truly superb debut novel that attacks the senses and ultimately leaves you reeling from the brilliantly-staged shock ending.
It's amazing how some Crime writers make their stories sound so authentic courtesy of the detailed lengths that they go to in order
Reviews, Theatre - Friday 17th February - The Hull Blokes Present Love - A Night Of Comedy, Drama And Passion at Northern Theatre By Jane Foster
The Hull Blokes are a talented bunch of 13 local, er, blokes! who I have
had the pleasure of seeing twice before in their relatively short life.
So I thought it was high time to do them justice and write a review.
The Blokes have been lucky enough to secure themselves a home in the new
Northern Theatre building, which in my opinion is more welcoming and
Reviews, Books - The Loop by Nicholas Evans Reviewed by Steve Rudd
This is the second breathtaking novel from Nicholas, the first having being
the international best-selling weepy, The Horse Whisperer which shot
the English-based writer to fame.
The Loop has nothing to do with horses whatsoever, and instead focuses
on the trials of a wild pack of wolves that is terrorising a farming community in Montana.
A 29-year old wolf expert called Helen is
Reviews, Books - Rising To Obscurity and How To Remain Anonymous by AAA Aarbon (Bitterne Books) Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
Published by Hull-based Bitterne Books, the first two titles in this humorous series
offer a different take on the modern world that we live in.
Part satire, part social comment, they follow the story of AAA Aarbon, a self-confessed
seeker of anonymity.
AAA Aarbon is described by his editor as being best forgotten for many reasons.Rising To Obscurity charts the absurd
Reviews, Books - Notes From a Small Island By Bill Bryson Reviewed by Steve Rudd
Good old Bill is a natural comedian and never holds back when it comes to being honest. He's one of the world's best-loved and most famous travel writers, and this volume of 'notes' is exclusively concerned with a number of weeks that Bill spent investing in the art of travelling around Britain back in the mid 90's.
His travel writing talents first came to prominence when he released
Reviews, Books - Flashback By Jenny Siler Reviewed by Steve Rudd
The past is a puzzle for everyone, a tattered collection of memory and desire. Even those people we most long to understand remain no more than a sum of those static moments we've chosen to hold them in.
This is a must-read novel for any discerning fan of high-octane,
Steve Hamilton-esque thrillers, as the drama-drenched action flits the
length and breadth of the
Reviews, Books - Book Recommendations by Steve Rudd
Here are some short and sweet book recommendations in place of the usual fully-fledged
reviews, quite simply because I haven't had time to write up these reviews in more detail.
The fact is that there are too many great books, and far too little time to read
them - let alone write about them in gushing retrospect.
Anyway, here's some mention of some of the books I've recently been
Reviews, Films - Films Kong By Michelle Dee
Visually stunning. Terrific pace. Jackson winds up the tension to breaking point
and never lets you go till the final frame.
This is what you would expect from a Christmas Blockbuster, but this reworking of the
original King Kong film, has so much more than the usual thrills and spills.
Naomi Watts is very striking to say the least and the ill-fated love