Thursday, 4 August 2011
Luther:The Calling - Neil Cross
DCI John Luther has an extraordinary clearance rate. He commands outstanding loyalty from friends and colleagues. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumours that DCI Luther is bad - not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented.
Luther seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things he shouldn't; things way beyond the limits of the law.
Luther: The Calling, the first in a new series of novels featuring DCI John Luther, takes us into Luther's past and into his mind. It is the story of the case that tore his personal and professional relationships apart and propelled him over the precipice. Beyond fury, beyond vengeance. All the way to murder...
It will be no surprise to people who read my blog that coming back from Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival with a copy of LUTHER: THE CALLING was one of the highlights of my weekend. I remember clutching the book firmly on my walk home from The Swan at 2am on that last evening and am sure had anyone tried to take the book from me, I would have clouted them John Luther style around the head with it.
I am a huge Luther fan. And being able to read about him as well as watch him on television, well, it gave me mixed feelings. Feelings of terror and dread about what I would find inside. Feelings of 'would it be okay to lock myself away for a few days after I'd just spent four days in Harrogate'. Feelings of exhilaration, fear, excitement. I couldn't wait! And Neil Cross didn't disappoint me.
Firstly, let me say that LUTHER: THE CALLING is freestanding from the series. This is an original book and not a tie-in or novelization. It's one of John Luther's cases pre-series. So there are some characters in there that you don't expect to read about, which I found really good. If, like me, you like the television series for it's unbelievably believable writing, characters and plots, then you'll love LUTHER: THE CALLING. If you haven't watched any of series one or two of Luther, you could pick this book up and enjoy it as it stands. And I have to say, for me, reading it with Idris Elba in mind was wonderful!
Onto the writing. LUTHER: THE CALLING is dark, compelling, squeamish, pacy, twisted, well written obviously, ghoulish. In one word - perfect. It felt to me like reading a TV script in book form. Short, sharp sentences. A sense of place would be described in only three words. A character described in four or five words. But the words used were so perfect to provide exactly the right images and feelings. I also found the book a perfect example of how to write 'show not tell' using the minimum of words to create the maximum atmosphere. I like to write short, shocking sentences, few words but with lots of meaning, so the book had an extra edge for that reason. And the plot is so, so good.
The only thing I don't like about a book which is this good is that it is so hard to review - I want to say and this happens and then this happens next and wait until you read this part...there are so many euwww moments in it that make it fabulous.
John Luther is now a crime fiction hero - or maybe an anti-hero - and I can't wait to read the next book.
LUTHER: THE CALLING - go on, it's calling you!
You can find out more about Neil Cross at his brilliant website here where you get to see that he is so much more than the creator of DCI John Luther. Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for my review copy.