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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

Accro Au Plaisir

Accro Au Plaisir - Michel Brice Even by the low, low standards of the Brigade Mondaine series, this is a terrible book: sloppily put together, negligible characterization, haphazard plot, and writing all over the place. The authors constantly throw in huge irrelevant dollops of sex in a desperate attempt to fix the obvious flaws, but without success; it's not even worth reading as porn. Once upon a time this series was sort of amusing, but it seems that those days are, alas, no more.

I suppose that, even here, one should bear in mind Nabokov's injunction to identify with the author, not with the characters. I do in fact have a hypothesis in this regard: I think it was written in tandem by two people, one male and one female, and that the team did not get on at all well. It's all very speculative, but, for what it's worth, here's my analysis.

Certain parts, particularly near the beginning, are significantly better written. There are also some passages where male characters are described from the female point of view in a tone of absolute disgust, and one of the very few episodes which had any sort of emotional resonance involved a smart, sympathetically presented woman who has been kidnapped and forced to sexually satisfy the bad guys. Well, if you are an aspiring female author who has somehow ended up working for the Brigade Mondaine stable, that's not a bad metaphor for how you might feel. The female detective, Valerie, is also initially described in positive terms, as a strong woman well in control of the situation.

A good half of the book, however, is quite different both in terms of tone and construction. The language is startlingly unpolished, and the presentation is from an almost exclusively male point of view. In these parts, the women, including Valerie, are presented in the most vulgarly pornographic way possible as simple prostitutes; the change in Valerie's character is particularly surprising. I thought that these parts had been written by the male team member, whom I disliked more and more as the story progressed.

The oddest thing was the ending. The authors seemed to have lost all interest in the story, and abandoned any attempt to maintain tension or narrative flow. You felt they just wanted to get the damn thing over as quickly as possible, so that they would never have to speak to each other again. I wouldn't have believed it was possible for the quality of the writing to deteriorate very much, considering that it was already so bad, but I turned out to be wrong. Actually, things can always get worse, and they did.

Yuk! This is the worst book I have read for at least two years, and left a very nasty taste in the mouth. And I thought it would just be some harmless fun. I'm disappointed!


Do you know, I believe the Brigade Mondaine series has been wound up. I haven't seen a copy on sale at the Geneva Airport bookstall the last half dozen times I've been there. And after more than 300 numbers! Even though the last few, like this one, were unspeakably horrible, it's rather sad.