Book review: Loss by Tony Black

Book review: The Last 10 Seconds by Simon Kernick

LOSS-Tony-BlackThese two novels are not really novels at all. They are, at best, second-rate submissions for TV scripts for stack-em-high-and-sell-em-cheap filler drama.

Neither book has a storyteller at the helm. Black and Kernick are writers, able to string a few sentences and paragraphs together in a fairly organised way.

Can they tell a tale? No. Can they grab the reader with characters and plot that are anything other than cardboard and copycat? No.

Can they fit in the product placement? Oh yes. Black should receive excellent ‘royalties’ from Marlboro (mentioned every 10 pages or so), Royal Superkings (occasional mentions), Next, Stone Island and Crombie clothing, Palmolive hair products, Saab, Nissan and Fiat car companies, Doc Martens (mentioned every 50 pages or so) etc. You can imagine how clumsy, awkward and stuttering the story reads with so many brand names on every other page. Did I also mention the beer, whisky and soft drink brands?

Loss, then, clatters along from one self-obsessed “tell, don’t show” episode to the next, regularly repeating the key “poor me” and “I’ll lose her unless I reform” internal dialogues.

The characters are beyond obvious – alcoholic central character, impossibly powerful villians (who, nonetheless, of course, get beat), solid-as-a-rock best mates, secondary salt-of-the-earth characters who get maimed, tortured and killed whenever the plot requires.

To be honest, this novel reads like the only fiction Black has ever been exposed to is reruns of Eastenders.

Rating: 0 stars.

Last-10-seconds-KernickKernick spins the roles a little, but only to make the central alcoholic police character female:

“She needed a drink. Badly. More than she’d needed one for a while. … when things were tough, as they were now, the urge came hard and unforgiving … and the more she resisted the stonger it became until there was no choice but to succumb. Like now.”

The cause of Tina’s internal dialogue? Unknown! She’d recently been promoted, had an excellent boss, was successful in her recent arrests, and was currently on top of an important case.

Storytelling? No. Again, this is bland, episodic TV-style script-writing, B-grade at best, with chapters ending with:

“And then I heard the noise behind me.”

And, like Black, Kernick repeats ‘key’ internal dialogues, perfect for a TV producer to think it will be easy to use the script for half a dozen half-hour episodes, the repeating segments to remind the viewer, each episode, of the character traits of the hero/heroine.

Rating: 0 stars.

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