This must be the very last mention of the devil either driving or riding. According to an e-mail from our friend Ian Dean, Google has examples of both, so riding it shall stay.
Derek Biddle who has supplied me with all the Reginald Hill books I’ve read and enjoyed has kindly lent me “A Small Death In Lisbon” by Robert Wilson because, as he said, he thought, seeing as to how I am an aficionado of Mr Hill, I would enjoy this one.. Well the answer to that is both yes and no. Yes because it is quite an interesting story, no because the writing is dire, the most absurd similes pulling me up every now and again extremely irritated. Some might consider these similes to be imaginative but I’m afraid I just find them ridiculous. And was tempted to give some examples but then I turned to the front of the book and read, not that I’ve never red this injunction before, “All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means etc., etc.,” and as this is definitely a retrieval system I guess I would be in breach of copyright if I were to type out even the smallest example. But if you have a copy of the book just take a look at page 404 second paragraph or 405 last paragraph and tell me amazement doesn’t sit on your eyebrow! The other annoying trait is that by now I think we have traversed the entire Lisbon A-Z of streets, alleys, parks, boulevards, beach fronts, docks, wharves, and interesting buildings. Our policeman hero seems to be in the habit of walking up one street only to cross another and then mooch down a third before turning left or right into yet another. It gets very boring especially as all the names (like the food and drink constantly mentioned together with the amount of cigarettes, cigars, cheroots smoked) are in Portuguese and are forgotten once the eyes have passed them by. The cigarettes, cigars and cheroots aren’t in Portuguese by the way which is just as well as they are mentioned so often, at one point one of the characters smoking from four different ashtrays.
I suppose there are those who would say that, as a writer, I shouldn’t be so critical of another writer’s work knowing how hard the job can be but it seems to me that these days grammar or elegant prose simply aren’t requirements in the world of modern publishing.
Witness Dan Browne and I was interested to read that Barry Humphries describes his prose as execrable to which I wholeheartedly agree, and with Mr Wilson I would describe his endeavouring to be ‘too slick and clever’ writing as very much sub Mickey Spillane. So I think I have every right to voice an opinion especially as, if I do take to a wonderful piece of writing, I am unstinting in my praise. The only thing to say in Mr Wilson’s favour at the moment is that I am not going to put his book aside but do intend to get to the end simply because I want to find out what the end is going to be, although I am quite sure I guessed the identity of the murderer a long way back. Could be wrong of course.