13 May 2009

Cocaine Nights (JG Ballard)

I find it excitingly creepy that neither Earhart nor I normally read crime, yet in the last few days we have both picked up crime novels... and both of them are about cocaine!! Unfortunately, my pick didn't feature a diamante garter... probably because most of the female characters appear to be without clothes for a large portion of the novel (Europeans... tsk). 

I was a bit disappointed with this read. Partly because everyone was calling it 'dazzlingly original' and I didn't think it was. The plot was incredibly crafted and the characters were well-constructed in terms of realism and depth... but the actual writing style didn't resonate I'm afraid. It was Greene with a shot of Hemingway (so... definitely GOOD, I'll give it that). Dazzlingly original is DBC Pierre. Show me that level of originality and I'll be impressed. 

Cocaine Nights is about a journalist (Charles Prentice) who flies to a wealthy Spanish resort town when his brother is convicted of the murder of five people. Frank Prentice runs a local club and is well-known throughout the town... so well-known that absolutely nobody believes he committed the murders- the police included. However, a guilty plea is pretty hard to ignore, so everyone seems pretty set on just letting Frank take the rap. Charles, firmly believing in his brother's innocence, sets about uncovering the many secrets of the resort.

In all honesty, this had a gripping plot line and a classy, elegant feel to it (ummm.. despite the gratuitous sex, drug use and violence) for crime. Ballard is obviously gifted and I applaud the fact he got me to finish a novel in this genre. But I had high expectations for a mind-blowing read and these didn't eventuate.

Perhaps it is because I was prejudiced against the book from one of the earliest chapters... when one of the characters chucks his remaining tapas at a bunch of homeless cats for them to eat. I cannot explain the outrage I felt when I read that alley cats were eating (fictional) tapas and I was not. (I may have been hungry at the time of reading that part). 

Rating: 8/10. 
Search Engine Submission - AddMe