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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Calling

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: The Calling

The Calling
Luther, Book 1

Author: Neil Cross
Pages: 324
Publisher: Touchstone
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
A brilliant crime novel and prequel to the acclaimed BBC series by the show’s creator and sole writer Meet Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. He’s a murder detective with an extraordinary case-clearance rate. He’s obsessive, instinctive, and intense. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumors that Luther is bad—not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented. After years of chasing the most depraved criminals in London’s gritty underworld, he seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things any other detective wouldn’t and shouldn’t do.

Luther: The Calling, the first in a new series of novels featuring DCI John Luther, takes us into Luther’s past and into his mind. It is the story of the serial killer case that tore his personal and professional relationships apart and propelled him over the precipice—beyond fury, beyond vengeance, all the way to the other side of the law. Is Luther a force for good or a man hell-bent on self-destruction? Edgar Award–winning writer Neil Cross has created one of the most compelling characters in modern crime fiction. Luther: The Calling is a compulsively readable novel by the writer hailed by The Guardian as “Britain’s own Stephen King.”

First Sentence: "John Luther, a big man with a big walk, crosses the hospital car park, glistening with night rain."

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that mysteries just aren't really my thing. They can be good, but they're all so similar in their plot arc, and I just don't feel compelled to read many. As such, I usually reject review requests for mysteries. However, I made an exception for this one, because it's based on a BBC series, one I haven't seen actually, but still! The allure of British programming is irresistable to me!

The Calling is a prequel to the the British Series, which is supposedly wonderful. Though I know nothing about it, I can see this book setting up Luther as he must be in the show. His married life falls apart, so that he can be the typical single, gruff detective and free, presumably, for hookups and romantic entanglements later on in the show. Happy husbands are not generally assumed to make compelling television. In The Calling, he also steps outside the bounds of what is allowable for police work, possibly for the first time, another thing that I assume sets up the plot of the show.

My favorite aspects of the novel, though, were those that do not fit into the detective stereotype. While Luther's marriage breaks up in the typical way, through her frustration over his workaholic nature, he cares more than most of the hard-boiled detective types. John Luther is a romantic; he loves his wife wholly and completely, and neglects her during cases, because he simply cannot rest (literally) until the case is solved. His need to resolve cases seems almost pathological. On top of his deep love and respect for his wife, Luther also loves to read and is a rather quiet, nerdy guy outside of the office.

Of course, when he's working, Luther is, without a doubt, a freaking badass that you really do not want to be messing with. He will stop at nothing to catch the bad guy and save a life. I had the most trouble with these aspects because I really cannot imagine him getting away with most of the things that he does. Of course, vigilante justice is much more entertaining than the way 'justice' would really work, with trials and evil men going free, but it just didn't seem believable to me at times.

This book is pretty graphic, so the faint of heart, those who like their mysteries to be of the cozy variety, should pass this one buy with a quickness. Also, even if you like graphic violence in your books, I want to warn that there are brutal scenes of animal violence (even worse than Origin) and crimes perpetrated against children. If you have young children, you might not want to read this, unless you're really good at not imagining fictional circumstances happening to your own kids.

All in all, The Calling did follow along with pretty standard mystery tropes, but I did enjoy it a bit more than usual. If you like dark, gritty mysteries, this should please you.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"She says, 'You're home.'
   He ignores the redundancy. It's just one of those things people say to each other. Most words people say to each other don't mean what they seem to. Spoken words carry they're real meaning like rats carry infected fleas."

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Anonymous Risa said...

I like mysteries, but sometimes the details... o.O like, animal violence, I honestly have a lot of trouble with.

However, I do like to incorporate mysteries into my bookshelf, although mostly they're Agatha Christie. I cannot get enough of that woman.

Anyway, sounds like an OK book. Not too nightmare-worthy, I hope.

September 23, 2012 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, violent mysteries aren't my main genre at all, and that's not going to change, but for the people who like that sort of thing, this is a good one.

September 25, 2012 at 8:16 AM  

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