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october/november 2017 travel news 39
by Graham Masterton
Masterton’s latest Katie Maguire thriller is not
for the squeamish. It leaves one wondering
if Ireland’s city of Cork could perhaps be
one of the most criminal municipalities on
earth. There is always something with weird
and terrible consequences happening, be
it internal disruptions within the force itself,
drugs, or murders. Katie must deal with
each crisis by whatever means she can.
Now her problems centre on dog smuggling
and illegal organised dog fights. These in
themselves are serious enough, but both
turn out to be closely connected to another
even worse crime.
The story opens with a privately owned
dog kennels burglary. Many pedigreed
animals are taken and a man killed. Dog
kidnapping is implemented by what are
known as ‘dognappers’. But it’s not only
dogs who disappear without trace: it’s
people as well. On Hallowe’en a young
girl leaves a nightclub, unwisely accepts a
lift and vanishes into thin air. Additionally
increasing quantities of drugs are arriving in
Cork. Where are they sourced and who is
Katie’s feud with her boss Jimmy O’Reilly
still lingers on. He gives her a top secret
assignment, about which she is dubious,
but she is obliged to carry out his orders.
What will be the outcome?
Enter Conor O’Maille, renowned ‘dog
detective’. Blessed with charm, good looks
and working in close co-operation with Katie,
it is inevitable that they become strongly
attracted. Katie is currently caring for her love
of some time back who has been severely
disabled in a previous Maguire adventure.
As he recovers, she feels obliged to take
responsibility for him, as he has no one else
to give him the care he needs.
This brings serious complications, since
although she is no longer in love with John,
he is sure that when he is well again, they
will be able to take up where they left off.
How does she explain Connor to John?
As one crisis succeeds another, Masterton
screws the tension tighter and tighter.
Once a ‘horror’ genre writer, it is clear that
he still has a taste for the macabre, for he
frequently spares us no horrific detail: it is
all very strong stuff. Reading his books is
disturbingly compulsive and once ended it is
difficult to find something that replaces the
intensity of a plot such as this, with surprises
right to the bitter end. One can only take a
deep breath, and reluctantly seek a more
by Jilly Cooper
Cooper is back and so is Rupert Campbell
Black with the rest of the C-B mob, friends
and enemies alike, all a little bit older
but otherwise no different. There are
far too many characters, not to mention
animals with nauseating names – like
Purrpuss (yuk) and who are attributed with
impossibly anthropomorphic characteristics.
Unfortunately the animals behave like
humans, and humans like the worst type of
quadruped - ‘the pets’ could do with some
imposed discipline as could the people
Rupert is now a widely popular flat racing
breeder and trainer, but remains the deadly
enemy of his unpleasant rival, Cosmo
Rannaldini. The plot is weak, although picks
up slightly towards the end. Throughout
there is an abundance of ritualistic race
meeting and orgy-istic parties. There is
the customary surfeit of fornication, and
drinking: (the best champagne and Scotch
still seem to be in endless supply. Does the
author receive a reward for mentioning brand
names?) Often the inevitable results of too
much booze and sex take their toll of those
riding in important races. And so the story
rambles. Horses lose, horses win, and will
a dramatic court case ruin Rupert? There’s
a traitorous ‘baddie’ hidden in the Campbell
Black ranks. It is not difficult to speculate
who the culprit is. Race horses and riders
make frequent changes between Cosmo
and Rupert, who seems to become more ill-
natured by the day. Poor Taggie, his wife,
feels neglected with could-be dangerous
consequences. She does come over as
rather too good to be true, and certainly too
good for Rupert..
Cooper has written in this genre for too long.
Her first Campbell Black series, published
over twenty years ago, were tremendous
nobody had written quite like her before.
But her style is now outdone and outdated.
She remains a more than competent writer,
but please Jilly give us a rest (make it a
long one) from the Rutminster set and this
fatuous and foolish jokey style of writing. She
tries to be funny, and ‘punny’ but does not
often succeed, to the extent that frequently
she comes over as just plain crude and
decidedly distasteful. With its overload of
characters and animals the book is far too
drawn-out and when analysed is plagued by
its repetitive descriptions. Somehow or other
one keeps reading, but perhaps only to find
out if you’ve made the correct diagnosis as
to who is the villain of the piece – after all,
it’s always satisfying to be proved right.
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