Last minute gift ideas? Impact collects together some of the year’s book releases that would make great seasonal tomes with a view…
Harry Bosch is now firmly established as one of the great cornerstone detectives of modern novels. Michael Connelly’s acerbic detective is also a fixture on Amazon Prime with Titus Welliver in the title role. But his literary adventures continue and Connelly’s latest, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, sees our hero looking into two cases – one formally (in his new role as a part-time member for the San Fernando Police Department) and another case in a freelance capacity. The former proves more overtly dangerous of the two with the investigation into a serial rapist known as the Screen Cutter – named because of his method of gaining entry into houses to rape his victims becoming even more urgent when the wider scale of his crimes becomes apparent. However, the freelance case could be the more lucrative for Bosch when he is hired by an elderly wealthy industrialist to see if he secretly has a surviving heir. If so, it would change all aspects of a will that is literally worth billions of dollars and which, Harry believes, people might be willing to kill to protect their own slice of the pie from disappearing.
Connelly once again demonstrates why his books – and Harry in particular – are firm favourites and best-selling titles. There is an organic nature to the stories being told, showing Connelly’s familiarity with procedures (he was a crime reporter in his younger days) but without it ever becoming dry detail or distracting. Arguably the police case could have been fleshed out a little more, some of its resolution coming about by chance and coincidence as much by investigation by the time all is revealed but it still racks up the tension towards the end as the attacker strikes closer to home . The ‘heir’ narrative takes up more of the running time, or feels that way and gives the book it’s emotional beats – highlighting the kind of investigative work a police-officer has to do to solve a mystery and it proves satisfying. The book’s balance ultimately works itself out giving us another chapter in Harry’s career and continuing to develop his outlook on the world. The parallels between looking for a ‘child’ that may never have existed with Harry coming to terms with the fact his daughter, Maddie, is now away from home and building her own life at college is also not lost on either the character or reader.
Harry might have been tempted to formally retire, but Connelly proves there’s plenty of life left in the character and his singular mission to make sure all lives matter.
Originally released in October and November in the UK and US respectively, its another great read and well worth the cover price.
Published by Orion Books, £19.99 (Hardback)
BBC Books‘ The Whoniverse is a quite beautiful book, a coffee-table tome in size and weight (both physical and descriptive) that looks at the history of the universe(s) in which the Doctor has voyaged.
From the very start, the painted artwork and production designs included are of an amazing quality and while it would be nigh-on-impossible to go into every detail, this is a book that charts the main milestones as if they were a history book detailing the rise and fall of civilisations on the Earth alone. It’s interesting to see the mythology of the show approached in such a way – careful, considered and with real weight to showing that the adventures we see in the show were mere glimpses of much wider dramas and mythologies when seen from other angles. Over fifty years of back-story are given a wider viewfinder and here there’s an effort to distill it down to the most important eras and civilisations we’ve encountered. Presented totally as ‘fact’ rather than ‘fiction’, the text in the 300+ page book goes into fine detail on the main species and their histories and often their dramatic impact on the Earth, giving their motivations, triumphs and failures.
At £35.00 it perhaps more than a casual fan might want to spend, but the truth is that it is meant for devoted fans rather than casual readers and the price reflects the tone and feel of the piece, making it worth every penny. Familiar writers Justin Richards and George Mann provide the text and it’s up to their usual high standard. There might have been a danger of that text becoming too dry or high-brow, but that’s largely avoided throughout and it helps to have the book punctuated by those superb full-colour illustrations and artwork that adorns almost every page. Indeed this feels like some of the Athena books of old, their pages filled with starships, designs and book-cover proofs from key artists.
A classy book that feels like it should be kept in a prominent place on your bookshelf, but never allowed to gather dust. Definitely worth your time and space.
Published by BBC Books, £35.00. Out Now.
Published by BBC Books and originally released in September, Whographica is an interesting oddity but a welcome one – a lighter, frothier but no less informative take on proceedings.
Rather than dryly-relate facts about Doctor Who, this tome collects together illustrations, graphs, diagrams, flowcharts and infographics to illustrate lots of obscure and itneresting details about the show’s timeline and the show’s continuity. Some is simply fun and obscure, collected together for amusement and fun, but other parts are pretty useful in drawing together some of the ongoing mythology of the series. That’s easier said than done when even the strictest canon can be contradictory.
Yes, the inner geek is well and truly embraced and if you aren’t hardcore enough to find out, say, how many times a numerically-formulated title was used, this may make you want to re-evaluate your degree of loyalty – come and have a go if you think you’re ready!
But it’s a clear labour of love for Simon Guerrier, Steve O’Brien and illustrator Ben Morris – all of them familiar names in the world of Who reportage and general sf coverage. It’s hard not to applaud the time it must have taken to bring all the facts and figures together AND, so importantly, find ways to present them that raise a smile. And it’s all here – sonic screwdriver changes, vital statistics, charts of first appearances, how long ti would take you to watch each incarnation’s stories, the evolution of the Daleks, how many companions have been in the Tardis and for how long…. There’s even pages on how Whographica itself was created.
And more than fairly-priced for a hardback book of well over 200 information-crammed pages, it’s at least as big as it looks on the inside, which is impressive.
Published by BBC Books, £16.99. Out Now.
Colouring books are all the rage right now, definitely back into an all-ages category and hobby that kids and adults can enjoy as a way of relieving the stress of everyday life with merely some paper and coloured pencils.
So it’s quite an ingenious marketing plan to provide fans of BBC‘s Sherlock series with an opportunity to combine their interests. The Mind Palace colouring book is effective in that regard. Veteran comic-book illustrator and storyboard artist for the show Mike Collins is the man charged with finding the various photographic stills and publicity shots from the last few years of the cult series and creating graphics and pen and ink outlines, adapting them ready to be coloured.
There’s the added incentive of hidden ‘clues’ from each of the episode imbedded into parts of the main images that reflect those stories directly, though this is perhaps just an added idea rather than something essential to the project.
Admittedly, there feels something slightly opportunistic about the whole idea and of the BBC Books presented here it is clearly, a marketing idea unapologetically aimed at the mass market and passionate fanbase rather than being too deep, meaningful or essential. But that being said, it’s not a bad idea and there’s certainly a market for it.
Published by BBC Books, £9.99. Out Now.
While Elizabeth Gracen is probably best known as a former Miss World and for her role as Amanda in the cult tv series Highlander (and spin-off The Raven), she has also diversified into other areas of the arts in recent years – including short films, photography and now as author of the YA novel Shalilly.
It tells the story of a teenage misfit, Fippa, a girl who is already facing a life-or-death decision to protect the world, submerged in a portal from which a sacrifice must be drawn. But as her very heart stops beating it is the beginning of a much wider, epic adventure for her – reborn into another world and taking on the appearance of the Shalilly, a legendary winged human akin to a exotic butterfly. But there are still many dangers facing her in this new world and if she’s to get the help she needs to truly save her people, then she must learn to navigate the people and creatures she finds through this portal.
With illustrations throughout by artist Luca di Napoli, who also provides the cover, Shalilly is a charming adventure that combines the ideas of earthy magic with flights of fantasy. Suitable for all ages and carefully balancing a fantastical adventure with an underlying message of hope and empowerment, the passion-project was launched a few months ago and made available through Amazon and at various conventions, but deserves to get to a wider audience…
Shalilly is available now through Amazon. Click here for more details…
Impact‘s own John Mosby wrote Fearful Symmetry, an overview of the Highlander franchise, and it was successfully launched late last year but has somewhat come into its own in this thirtieth anniversary year of the original film.
The weighty book, hitting the finishing line and claiming ‘The Prize’ at over 300 pages in over-size format, explores every facet of the franchise from its earliest days as an idea and tentative screenplay by Gregory Widen through its various sequels, tv series, books, music, comics, conventions – also looking at aspects and side-projects which never got completed. Interviews are plentiful and include the likes of Christopher Lambert, Adrian Paul, Peter Wingfield, Jim Byrnes, Elizabeth Gracen, Roger Daltrey, show-runner David Abramowitz, writers Gillian Horvath and Donna Lettow and a host of actors who would guest-star in the films and show over the decades. They give not just information about the franchise but context, charting its highs and lows over the years. It’s not quite a fully-endorsed, official guide-book from the Powers That Be but it has been largely praised by many of those involved in Highlander over the years and is likely the closest thing we’ll ever get to a full on, honest overview of the films and series.
As well as detailed text the book is also full of rare photographs, some from the author’s own visits to the set and some provided by mainstays such as the various directors from their own personal collections. The result is likely to give you a unique insight into the world of Immortals and the more pragmatic world of bringing them to the screen.
Fearful Symmetry is available through most global Amazon sites. Click here for more details…