Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Henry Porter: Remembrance Day

I have previously mentioned, with firm approval, two other thrillers by Henry Porter (A Spy's Life, 23 August, and Empire State, 23 July). Remembrance Day is actually the first in the series, dating from 1999, and it is a cracking good book.

You don't need to know very much, except that, if you normally enjoy thrillers, and you want a book for the plane or the beach, this is a sound bet. It is particularly remarkable given that it was the author's first novel, though he is a highly experienced and indeed distinguished journalist.

I have only a couple of criticisms, neither of them fatal. First, the book is, of course, far too long. This almost goes without saying, because it is virtually the norm these days. One can of course skip, which is what I did, and there are quite long sections where you can follow the plot perfectly well by reading 20% of the text.

Secondly, the book would be more effective, I feel, if it had fewer principal characters. In this respect Mr Porter could learn something from Youngman Carter (mentioned here on 6 September).

Overall, a shorter, tighter book would, in my view, be even more effective than the present work.

Incidentally, Mr Porter is sufficiently clued up on technological matters to have described in his plot, in 1999, a mechanism for setting off bombs which was used earlier this year by the real-life Madrid bombers.

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