Well, I’m back from vacation. Didn’t do much but I did get through a few books.
I finally finished Pandora by Jilly Cooper. Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as Rivals, it did grow on me from about the halfway point. Crazy characters but a fun, easy read.
I also read books 2 and 3 of the Len Deighton trilogy — Mexico Set and London Match. I had read the first book, Berlin Game, years ago and then read it a second time last month. I didn’t really enjoy the novels that much when I was young. I wanted my spy novels to be more like action movies.
But now I can appreciate a lot more the concept of character development, pace and believability. In fact, I prefer that now over what I call action novels.
I’ve now started the second trilogy by Deighton. There are nine books in all but they come in sets of three. I often wondered why they are referred to as three trilogies. There are lots of authors who have created characters who appear book after book. And in some cases, it is important to read them in order.
With Deighton, I think it’s very important to read from the beginning. There are too many subtle things about each character that grow over the course of the novels. Starting with book 4, (or book 1 of the second trilogy), won’t leave you lost, but as someone who is reading them in order, I can tell you that I understand certain things in the novel about the characters a little better thanks to the previous novels.
I think this is true of any series. Ian Fleming’s James Bond, James Patterson’s Ales Cross or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher are characters that appear in standalone books. But from book to book, there are still subtle changes in the character based on what has happened to them in previous novels. From a plot perspective, you can read them in reverse order and not be lost. But from a character perspective, you’re usually better off starting from the beginning.
So what’s up next? Well, I just finished Spy Hook. I was tempted to move on to Spy Line right away. But instead I started Brett Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero. It’s the book that made his famous. I’m 40 pages in and I’ve never met such a depressing bunch of losers in my life. I’m going to do some research on the novel. I know it was well received by critics and there’s no doubt the author can write. I’ve read other stuff by him and I enjoy it. But I’m curious as to what he thought about his characters. Was it a statement against the rich youth of the time? Did he feel he was unveiling some great truth or was he in attack mode? Maybe I’ll have the answers by the time I finish the novel.