|Reviews for The Banquo Legacy|
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|Nothing at the end of the Lane|
|By:||Phil Ince, Highbury, London|
|Date:||Monday 4 October 2004|
|Rating: || 4|
Having seen this book highly recommended in a number of places, I came
to it with high hopes despite finding the 2 subsequent Justin Richards'
books - The Burning and Sometime Never - truly dire. I'd assumed - where only hope was appropriate - that
having two typists on the job might mean both a dilution of any
respective shortcomings and perhaps an enhancement of each's strengths.
I have been really astonished therefore to find this co-written book
near enough indistinguishable from the turgid, awkward, semi-literate
droolings which Richards essayed after it.
Though read out of sequence, for the third JR / 8DA in a row I find a
Richards book substantially occupied by a slow chase - here by a corpse,
in The Burning by a fiery corpse, in Sometime Never by a skeleton. As
in Sometime Never and as is repeated in this book, the chase occurs
"at the pace of chilled treacle".
It may be that The Banquo Legacy has other intentions that to fill its
pages with type, but what these are escapes me; of entertainment there
is precious little; of characterisation little mor;, event? - almost
none at all. This is a baffling, dismal book which perhaps attempts -
through a pair of 1st person narrators, neither of which is a 'regular' -
to make unfamiliar characters yield a fresh perspective. It doesn't
really succeed. The 2 men - a police inspector and one of his
suspects - are really no more throughly differentiated than the pages of
paper they appear on. Different? Literally, yes. But distinct? Not
in the least. For example, both describe the hair and eye colour, the cloth and
cut of other characters' clothes. To have one of these young /
middle-aged, Victorian men do this would have been stretching it but might
suggest a certain aesthetic sense. This sensitivity therefore might have
been developed as a means of distinction. But because both demonstrate the same sensibility and style of observation, the purpose is loudly obscure.
There is an effective sequence of subsequent chapters where the two men give their accounts of one another during the Inspector's interview of his suspect. The policeman interpets the manner and behaviour he observes as aloof where the man he is questioning is actually terrified and - equally - interpets his inquisitor as having the upper hand. Neither before or after these passages is anything substantial or more than utilitarianly purposeful made of the alternating accounts and perspective. But credit where it's due.
This, again, is a vastly over-rated book - sluggish, repetitive and far from self-explanatory (why does the super-human corpse revive and why is it superhuman?).
Approach with caution.
|By:||Joe Ford, Eastbourne|
|Date:||Tuesday 23 November 2004|
|Rating: || 10|
An excercise in clever narration, The Banquo Legacy is Stephen Cole's last great edited book. Billed as a horror it really is nothing of the sort until the second half. Whereas the first half is happy to indulge in some lovely period drama and character building, the second lurches into gothic horror with a terrifying zombie on the loose trying to kill the characters. There is even a terrific 'Ahaha! You thought I was just a helpless victim! I was controlling the zombie all along!' moment that would have been a sterling cliff-hanger in the series!
Hopkinson and Stratford come of best of course and it is marvellous when we see the same scene from their induvidual point of view, highlighting just how different they are.
I got a genuine buzz out of reading this, the next time I hear somebody mouthing off about the 8th Doctor books i'll point them at this twisted masterpiece.
I have never been able to warm to Justin Richard's writing, and the only Andy Lane novel I've found engaging was his collaboration with the wonderful Jim Mortimore on "Lucifer Rising", so I was prepared for "The Banquo Legacy" to leave me cold. I was surprised and delighted (sorry, was channelling JN-T there) to find that the opening few chapters of this book are rather marvellous. There is atmosphere, pace, and intrigue. And then...it suddenly all falls apart. It becomes dull, pedestrian, and fails to hold interest once the first death has taken place, withering into a hideously padded Agatha Christie-esque plodder for the central chunk of the book, only to recover slightly towards the end. The characters are lifeless during this section, and as The Doctor and Fitz are very much in the background, it does become very difficult indeed to sustain any kind of interest in what is going on (or not going on, to be more accurate). Endless meandering conversations that do nothing to move things forward, and a plot that fails to ignite mean that The Banquo Legacy sees a huge falling off in quality once you're past the first 50 or so pages. Approach with caution.