I’ve been spending time more time than usual on public transport lately, so it’s time to review my recent diet of junk fiction.

Persuader is a macho thriller written by an Englishman in an American setting and idiom. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve ordered one of Lee Child’s other “Jack Reacher” novels from Amazon. The words are flat, but the story is more satisfyingly messy than most thrillers. Child is so thorough and consistent about practical details that the novel’s world seems solid. Like Frederick Forsyth, what he lacks in style (and his narrator is meant to be an ex military policeman, not a poet) is made up for by his research and plotting; and because he keeps things simple, he manages to sustain a real sense of danger.

The Da Vinci Code is an even bigger bestseller and was recommended to me as great, brainless entertainment by people who I am going to have to have a word with. Although the cover says the author is a Mr “Dan Brown”, it has clearly been ghostwritten by Basil Exposition in the finest Archerese. Here’s the terrible opening sentence followed by some other samples from the first two pages:

“Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery…

“…The man stared at him, perfectly immobile except for the glint in his ghostly eyes. ‘You and your brethren possess something that is not yours… Tonight the rightful guardians will be restored. Tell me where it is hidden and you will live.’

“…The gun roared, and the curator felt a searing heat as the bullet lodged in his stomach

“…Saunière closed his eyes, his thoughts a swirling tempest of fear and regret.

“…[The man] reached for a second clip, but then seemed to reconsider, smirking calmly at Saunière’s gut. ‘My work here is done.'”

Everyone reading this who knows me personally [and that’s half the audience] must now imagine me doing my dinner-party “exasperated Muppet”, forearm-flapping gesture while I repeat the anti-mantra “‘My work here is done‘!? ‘My work here is done‘!?” over and over in disbelief until another guest pushes a spoon into my gaping mouth to make me stop.

Claire! Hurry up and write a sequel!

[I think I am going to have to get a username and write a review to lift your average rating on UK Amazon nearer to the US score. At the moment there is only one review, from someone calling herself “girlfriendinacoma”, and she has given your work a wholly undeserved kicking. Alternatively she could be persuaded to see things differently 😉 . Knowing you, Claire, “girlfriendinacoma” is some posh Englishwoman you offended during your 90s UK tour. If we are planning a campaign of intimidation that doesn’t really help us much in our search for her, though, does it?

This shameless advertising on behalf of an old college friend is a response to the Norminator plugging his wife’s book today.]