The Lesson of her Death by Jeffrey Deaver

In a month that brought us the staggering news of a Ben Stiller film that I actually found funny, we’ve also struck another anomoly: a Jeffrey Deaver novel that’s really just not very good at all.

The Lesson of Her Death is, frankly, a bit of a mess. Deaver doesn’t know whether to make it a procedural crime novel, a murder mystery, a teen angst book or a soap opera. As a result it doesn’t do any of the jobs particularly well.

It’s a simple enough plot and potentially more enjoyable if one strand (perhaps two) could have been picked and stuck to. As it is, far too much detail is given to what should have been background detail and the whole thing is just too wordy. The pacing is all over the shop with momentum coming in spurts rather than driving the reader on to “just one more chapter” as the other Deaver novels I’ve read.

If you’ve got an urge to read a very simple whodunnit (with a pretty awful, Star Trek:TNG-esque “let’s just throw something in we didn’t bother to mention earlier” ending) wrapped up in a story about a little girl’s learning disabilities (which, although interesting in a way, lend nothing at all to the story in the long run) then go ahead. Otherwise, he’s written countless other books which are far more deserving of your time.

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28 Weeks Later

Cover of "28 Weeks Later (Widescreen Edit...
28 Weeks Later

Much better than just shoving a “II” at the end of the previous film’s title, 28 Weeks Later details events happening… erm… 28 weeks after the events in 28 Days Later.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a virus decimated London, then England in the first film. As the second film begins, the virus has been contained and (hopefully) destroyed. People are filtering back into the UK under extreme quarantine conditions, beginning with the Isle of Dogs. Of course, it can’t be that simple…

The virus in question turns people into rather nasty bloodthirsty zombie things. Only instead of shambling around, these ones run like hell. The rip your intestines out. Makes for a pleasant change from George A Romero’s inventions.

Of course, this leads to much visceral action, as well as the obvious jumps and shocks. The scene with the helicopter reminded me ever so slightly of the lawnmower sequence in Peter Jackson‘s Brain Dead (Dead Alive in the US). Utterly over the top and rather silly. But still cool in an “eeeeeewwww!” sort of way.

It does take a while for things to get going after the initial scene-setter, but it’s not the worst horror film plot of all time. It is different from the first film which is good in a sequel, and it seems there’s a third in the offing. The final few moments do make you wonder exactly what they’re going to do in it. But it’s got to be big.

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After the success of Lock Stock and Snatch, Guy Ritchie went into a bit of a decline – around about the time he married Madonna and started putting her in his films. RocknRolla is his first film post-divorce and though it’s not a complete return to form it’s still entertaining.

As ever, it’s a series of interlinked plots and stories which all wind up affecting each other. It’s twisty and quite clever but simply doesn’t have the punch of the first two films. The main things missing are the clever camerawork and snappy dialogue. The humour’s just not up there either – I’d actually liken it more to the (superior) Layer Cake.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: two robbers end up indebted to a crime lord. They take on a job which pays that debt off… but inadvertently an unknown to them puts them in a bigger pile of shit with the same man. Add a wayward stepson, a dodgy accountant and some Russian gangsters and you have the kind of background you’d expect for a Ritchie film.

As for the cast, they’re all pretty solid and – to me – moderately unknown, a little like the first two films. The only exception is Thandi Newton and I am buggered if I can figure out how anyone can find her attractive. Even less so given that she chain-smokes her way through the movie. Will someone please feed her a large quantity of meat pies before she starves to death?

At two hours it’s pretty long but does keep the interest. However, it’s got a hell of a history to live up to and sadly it just doesn’t quite cut it as a classic. It seems the cast will get another chance, though, as the end credits tell us they’ll all be back in The Real RocknRollas. I’d be prepared to give it a whirl.

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Couldn’t put it better

Boeing 737-800, named Nyköping, takes off from...
Don't fly on me

A post on Times Online detailing 20 reasons not to fly Ryanair. They pretty much cover everything although I’ll clarify point 2. If one person in your group has a bag then you all must check in at the airport and all pay the check-in charge, but only if you’ve made a group booking.

The way round this is to book the luggage carrier’s flight separately. Which takes time and is a pain in the arse, but saves a fiver per person per flight segment so may be worth it.

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