Saturday, June 9, 2012

My First Dip into Dame Stella

Rip Tide (Liz Carlyle, #6)Rip Tide by Stella Rimington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

74% of the way through.
It’s a thriller.
It’s crisply and reasonably well-written, if not brilliant. However, the main thing is that it’s holding my interest. It’s held me most of the way, but it did go slightly soggy at about the 60% mark. However, if this were a cake, the middle would be ever-so-slightly soft. It had faint memories of being allowed to scrape one’s finger round the inside of Mum’s mixing bowl before the placed the cake in the oven. In the days when it was OK to do that, even though you were dutifully told not to do it because it might give you worms. Things never were the same after Edwina Currie told us we were no longer allowed to enjoy eating our soft-boiled eggs.
At three quarters of the way through, Miss Rimington’s cake is packed with interest, soft fruit on the inside, yet the almonds are baked to perfection.

If this story were a real cake, or even a good meal, I’d be thinking that I could happily go on doing this for ever, so it’s 5-stars up to here, for no particular reason which is usually the best reason I can give for enjoying anything. Unfortunately though, novels like cakes and tuck-in meals can leave you with the feeling that you never want it to darken your doorstep again.

I’d been putting off the reading of this because I have always felt that Ms Rimington is far too big for her boots, but I now feel that her boots may have grown. Her cake has the contrasts in it which I like. Sweet and sour, savoury and mellow, and it manages to achieve this without adding to much fat, so it’s great for my figure too. By this I mean the tensions between Liz Carlyle and the MI6 man Geoffrey Fane, whom I could quite happily floor even when I’m in a good mood. The Muslim—Western tensions work well for me too because there’s also a good dollop of affection, love and admiration.

It’s time to stop now, and read the book to the end now that I’ve taken my breather. After finishing it I’ll look back to see if my thoughts are still the same. Ms Rimington’s four stars are assured. I wonder whether she can hold on to her five?

24/05/12   06:18:10 AM

     It’s finished. Certainly it was very exciting, and it held my interest pretty well. It only went slightly gooey in the centre and I was nowhere near in any danger of getting bogged down (For example, I’ve been stuck somewhere in the middle of Wilkie Collins’ The Black Robe for far longer than I care to remember.) For sure this is not Victorian Stodge where people worry themselves sick purportedly over the issue of conversion to Roman Catholicism. Certainly I feel I’ve become re-attached to reading a good thriller.
     I can’t stand straggly loose ends to a story, and for sure Ms Rimington has done a good job of tidying up the narrative with string, knots and ribbons, and that for me is where I slightly whinge the other way. It’s all a bit too neat and tidy, parcelled up and packed away and somehow I really can’t buy such a pretty ending when the plot involves al-Qaeda.

About 80% through any novel I begin to feel sad that the world in which I’d made my home is coming to an end. It’s here that I begin to cast my eye around to see what’s going to be next.  I’ve picked on one of those books which gives a warning that if I read it it will change my life forever. I could say the same thing about reaching the end of any day.

But to return to Rip Tide: yes, it’s certainly enjoyable, even if a bit tidy and prissy. It didn’t quite live up to to my expectations, but there again, most books don’t. It’s OK, and I’d always be ready to dive into another of Liz Carlyle’s adventures.

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