Potted reviews: World War Z by Max Brooks, Savages by Don Winslow, Gumshoe by Paul D. Brazill

World War Z, which I read earlier in the summer, is a superbly constructed ‘oral history’ of the Zombie War. It builds via long monologues the beginning, middle and aftermath of the war for the future of earth against the undead hordes. Along the way it uses the zombie apocalypse to satirically skewer Big Government’s inability to get organised in the face of big problems, the divisive nature of humankind, distrust, big business corruption, military inflexibility, and other societal problems. Occasionally, some of the voices can sound a bit similar, but this is a minor complaint when the book is so beautifully constructed and insightful. By the way, the film has barely nothing to do with the book other than sharing the same title. Read the book first. Highly recommended.

I’ll admit that I nearly put Savages down in the first ten pages, partly because the use of acronyms was driving me fucking crazy. But once I settled into it, and the acronyms, and etymology stuff, were toned down, I grew to love the story of Chon and Ben and O and their clashes with the Mexican Baja Cartel over their Marijuana business. The style, which reminded me of a up-to-date rendering of Ellroy’s prose, was perfect for this fast-paced story of cross and double-cross and clashes on the California/Mexico border. Highly recommended.

Set in the fictional northern locale of Seatown, which has its basis in the very real town of Hartlepool, Gumshoe is the story of serial failure Peter Ord, who decides in his infinite drunken wisdom to become a private investigator, and an enjoyable one at that, with plenty of booze, birds, some funny cases, and a brilliant sidekick-cum-best mate, Bryn Laden. Like all of Mr Brazill’s work it is very nicely written with a smart, sharp voice and a neat line in poetic similes. It can be polished off in an afternoon or evening’s reading and is well worth the cost of the download to your Kindle. Highly recommended.

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