Saturday, August 18, 2007

A quick snack called 'Calibre'

Just finished Ken Bruen's Calibre, and I'm not sure what to conclude, beyond that I liked it. It's certainly an easy read -- stripped-down, lean and mean, slick as polished steel. And I'm pretty sure it will be the shortest book I've read all year -- although I do have Ammunition waiting on the bedside table.

Maybe it's because I've lately been reading authors who tend to the other extreme, but it's almost as though Bruen has invented a new class of book here -- the crime novel for people who don't have time for crime novels. I guess those were called novellas, back in the day. His characters are perhaps too economically drawn; their motivations lean too heavily toward untroubled self-interest; their dialog comes in glittering little shards, sharp enough to put an eye out. I've heard some describe Bruen's stuff as hardboiled, but it seems almost too cheerful for that.

I'll try a few more -- I'm particularly interested in American Skin -- but my verdict on this one: It's not quite as filling as I'd like. It's a cup of strong coffee and a donut as opposed to a dinner. And probably not the kind of book I'm going to be thinking about much later than today.

4 comments:

Peter said...

I like your mealtime metaphors. I can see Calibre as strong, black coffee and a doughnut. Though I haven't read Bruen's Jack Taylor novels or his standalones, they might be heavier, more somber meals. Bust, his collaboration with Jason Starr, might be like a large pepperoni pizza with a litre of Coke: fizzy, spicy, sweet, maybe not what nutritionists or gourmet chefs would recommend, but a hell of a lot of fun to eat.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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Dave K. said...

Calibre is his first novel too, is it not? The meal metaphor was probably not altogether apt, but the only editor I have is me.

Peter said...

It was a hell of a metaphor, and Calibre was far from his first novel. It's the sixth in the Brant series, and he had also published four or five in the better-known Jack Taylor series by the time Calibre was issued, along with seven standalones, Bust and a few collections of stories. He's so prolific that one of the organizations (or Web sites) that bestows crime-fiction awards established a category for best Ken Bruen novel of the year.

Dave K. said...

Now I'm embarrassed. I could have sworn I read that somewhere. Thanks for setting me straight.