Monday, March 31, 2014

Review of Prime Cut by Alan Carter (Freemantle Press, 2011)

Philip ‘Cato’ Kwong used to be the face of the Western Australian police force’s recruitment posters and on a face-track to the top.  Then one of his early convictions is overturned when the real murderer is caught several years later, the evidence from the first case having been tampered with, and Cato is relegated to the stock squad, investigating farm and animal related incidents.  The move is designed to make him leave the force, a decision he’s close to making when he and his partner are sent to the small coastal town of Hopetoun that’s being transformed by a new mine to investigate the discovery of a torso washed up a beach.  There he’s reunited with an old flame, Tess Maguire, who’s fighting her own demons and a fourteen year old daughter.  They make little headway in the case, rebuffed by unhelpful locals as they slowly pick away at the town’s underbelly and its exploitation of Chinese migrant workers.  And unbeknownst to them, they unsettle a man with a very dark past, one that ex-cop and pommie retiree to Australia, Stuart Miller, has been chasing his whole life.

The strengths of Prime Cut are the evocative sense of place, the characterisation, and the mordant sense of wit.  Carter places the reader on the southern shore of Western Australia, with its scenic beaches and desolate landscape, and into Hopetoun, a small town being transformed by a massive nearby mine.  He populates the town and story with an interesting set of characters who are nicely penned, especially Cato Kwong and Tess Maguire, two damaged cops clinging onto their roles and rethinking their futures.  The storytelling is engaging, aided by a very nice dose of dark wit, expressed through some zinging one-liners.  For the most part the plot worked well, with a couple of decent hooks and steady pace, but as the story progressed it fractured into too many subplots and some of the scenes felt a little over-the-top and melodramatic.  Personally, I felt the Sunderland-linked plotline was not needed and was rooted in too much coincidence - it was if Carter couldn’t decide which case the tale should be about, the washed up torso or the Sunderland murderer and rammed together two plots that could have been the central focus of the story in their own right.  Sometimes, less is more. Regardless, I’d be interested to read the second book in the series to see how Cato fares in trying to get his career and personal life back on track.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lazy Sunday Service

The last couple of weeks have been fairly manic and I did less reading of fiction than I would have liked (but plenty of academic articles) and neglected the blog a little (which I imagine will continue for another couple of weeks due to a backlog of work).  I've now caught up with writing two reviews, which I'll post this week - Alan Carter's Prime Cut and Dennis Lehane's Live by Night.

My posts this week

Launch of new project
Review of Software Takes Command by Lev Manovich
Taking the devil for a swim

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking the devil for a swim

The small boat made its way out towards the centre of the lake, which was as flat, smooth and the same hue as Welsh slate.  At the stern an elderly man, his feet placed in two buckets of set concrete, was flanked by two younger men. 

‘You have any final words?’

‘They’ll be no guns on the far side.’

‘That’s it?’

‘You’re evil men, but I’m the devil.’

There was barely a splash as he hit the water.  He didn’t fight to stay on the surface and as he sank he stared up, his gaze locked on the two men.

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review of Software Takes Command by Lev Manovich (Bloomsbury, 2013)

In Software Takes Command, Lev Manovich provides a compelling account of how all forms of cultural media have become produced through software.  In so doing, he contends:

‘[s]oftware has become our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination - a universal language through which the world speaks, and a universal engine on which the world runs’ (p. 2).

Such arguments have been made in the nascent software studies literature for a number of years, with proponents suggesting that given the extent to which software now conditions everyday life it deserves to be examined in its own right as a significant actant and theoretical category (e.g., Fuller 2008, Chun 2011, Kitchin and Dodge 2011).  As Manovich puts it in a book proposal co-written with Benjamin Bratton in 2003,

‘[if] we don’t address software itself, we are in danger of always dealing only with its effects rather than the causes: the output that appears on a computer screen rather than the programs and social cultures that produce these outputs’ (p. 9).

As he notes, such studies are concerned with questions such as what is the nature of software?, ‘[w]hat is “media” after software?’ (p.4), ‘what does it mean to live in a “software society”?’ and ‘what does it mean to be part of “software culture”?’ (p. 6).  He seeks to answer such questions through an in-depth genealogical study of the ‘softwarization’ of cultural media - art, photos, film, television, music, etc. - that has been occurring since the 1970s, tracing out the simulation and extension of analogue techniques in software such as Photoshop, and the creation of entirely new techniques.

Through a series of theoretically informed and empirically rich chapters, Manovich reflects on how different media became thoroughly infused with software, how it altered different practices, and how to make sense of software’s effects.  He persuasively argues that softwarization has led to the formation of a new ‘metamedium’ in which what were previously separate media, and already existing and not-yet-invented media, become fused.  This metamedium is composed of a composite of algorithms and data structures, and techniques that are general purpose (such as cut-and-paste) and those that are media-specific which combine to produce various forms of ‘hybridity’ and ‘deep remixability’. 

Moreover, ‘[u]nited within the common software environment the languages of cinematography, animation, drawing, computer animation, special effects, graphic design, typography, drawing, and painting, have come to form a new metalanguage’ (p. 268).  Further, given the partial and provisional nature of software - always being updated and patched, always processing data - he contends that software produces a world of permanent change and flux.  He concludes that ‘[t]urning everything into data, and using algorithms to analyze it changes what it means to know something.  It creates new strategies that together make up software epistemology.’  We are only just starting to make sense of such an epistemology.

Given the logic and power of the argument forwarded it is relatively straightforward to begin to translate Manovich’s argument and approach to other domains.  Software, after all has gradually been infusing the practices of work, science, home life, communication, consumption, travel, and so on.  Indeed, as I read the text I started to sketch out a potential project tracing how maps have become software, producing a genealogy of geospatial media.  It will be interesting to see such translations being made and for the theory to be fleshed out as it encounters new scenarios and phenomena.
My view is, however, that such translations need to be broader and more ambitious in their scope.

Whilst Manovich is undoubtedly right that software is a key metamedium utilising new metalanguages that are reshaping cultural practices, the analytical framing adopted over-fetishizes code at the expense of its wider assemblage of production and use.  This is because his proposed approach is quite narrowly framed.  He argues: “To understand media today we need to understand media software - its genealogy (where it comes from), its anatomy (interfaces and operations), and its practical and theoretical effects” (p. 125). 

Horewever, drawing on my own work on thinking about data (Kitchin, in press), we need to be careful not to lose sight of the fact that software is bound up in a whole suite of discursive and material practices and structures, including:

•    systems of thought (philosophies, theories, models, ideologies, etc)
•    forms of knowledge (manuals, papers, magazines, websites, experience, word of mouth, etc)
•    finance (business models, investment, venture capital, grants, philanthropy, etc)
•    political economies (policy, tax regimes, public and political opinion, ethical considerations, etc)
•    governmentalities and legalities (data standards, system requirements, protocols, regulations, laws, licensing, intellectual property regimes)
•    materialities and infrastructures (computers, databases, networks, servers, etc)
•    practices (Techniques, learned behaviours, scientific conventions, etc)
•    organisations and institutions (corporations, consultants, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, universities, conferences, clubs and societies, etc)
•    subjectivities and communities (of data producers, managers, analysts, scientists, politicians, users, etc)
•    places (labs, offices, field sites, data centres, business parks, etc)
•    marketplaces (for software, data, coders, etc).

Understanding software then, I would contend, requires placing it within its wider context that shapes how it is conceived, produced, and used in often quite messy, contingent and relational ways.  Manovich rightly contends that software is a new ‘medium in which we can think and imagine differently’ (p. 13), but we should not fall into the trap of over-fetishizing and decontextualizing it; software is enmeshed in complex assemblages that have to be recognized and understood if we are to make full sense of how it makes a difference.  Nevertheless, Software Takes Command is a very good starting point for such a journey.

Chun, W.H.K. (2011) Programmed Vision: Software and Memory. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Fuller, M. (ed.) (2008) Software Studies: A Lexicon.  MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Kitchin, R. (2014, in press) The Data Revolution: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and Their Consequences.  Sage, London.

Kitchin, R. and Dodge, M. (2011) Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life.  MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Launch of new project

Over the past two days I've been tied up in three events related to the launch of the Programmable City project, for which I'm principal investigator.  The project, which employs a team of ten and looks at the relationship between software, data and cities, was officially launched yesterday by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, TD (program here).  If you're interested, the event received some media attention and the project website is here.

RTE News site, including Morning Ireland radio clip
Morning Edition (TV clip – 31.08 minutes in)
Irish Times article.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lazy Sunday Service

I'll be heading to Florida in a couple of weeks time, so I've been collecting together some books to take with me.  On the pile are novels by Edna Buchanan, Tim Dorsey, James W Hall, John Lutz, Michael Lister, and Dennis Lehane.  I've just made a start on Lehane's Live by Night, some of which is set in Tampa in the 1920s, to help get me in the mood.

My posts this week
Some St Patrick's Day reading
Review of Corridors of Death by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Oxford Internet Institute Bellwether Lecture
Review of Disappeared by Anthony Quinn
500th review
Too quiet

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Too quiet

‘I don’t like this, it’s too quiet.’

The two men crept along a hedgerow towards an old farmhouse.

‘He’s sleeping off a skinful.’

‘What about his dog?’

‘Off chasing sheep.  Look, stop fretting will you; there’s plenty of blood on the old bastard’s hands.’ 

They crossed a concreted yard. 

The elder man glanced through a window and moved to the front door.  ‘Anything moves, shoot it.’  He tensed his shoulder, drove into the door, then sailed backwards with the force of the blast.

Both men landed heavily, burnt, bleeding and stunned. 

A sheepdog approached and licked the younger man’s face.

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Friday, March 21, 2014

500th book review

My review of Anthony Quinn's fine novel, Disappeared, set in Northern Ireland, was the 500th review I've published on the blog since July 2009.  There's no doubt that the quality of my reading has improved since I started reviewing and I've read some wonderful books in recent years from all over the world.  This, to a large degree, has been because of the book blogging community through which I pick up recommendations.  My hope is that my own reviews have led to folks discovering some great writers and stories.  I've recently spent a bit of time organising the reviews on the site.  The tabs above provide links to all reviews, organised by country of setting, reviews of Irish authors, and stories set between 1930 and 1960 (which is a particular interest).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review of Disappeared by Anthony Quinn (Mysterious Press, 2012)

David Hughes, a retired Special Branch spymaster, is slowly losing his mind at the same time as he’s beginning to be haunted by ghosts.  Having run a network of Republican informers throughout The Troubles in Northern Ireland, Hughes has deep knowledge of where the skeletons are buried on both sides, knowledge that could upset the peace process.  Both Special Branch and the IRA want him to hold his silence, but can he be trusted to keep his secrets now that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?  Shortly after one of Hughes’ informers, Joseph Devine, is found dead, Hughes disappears.  Recently returned from Scotland, Inspector Celcius Daly is assigned both cases.  He quickly makes a connection to Oliver Jordan, murdered twenty years earlier by the IRA for being a suspected informer.  But then Daly starts to become sidelined as Special Branch take a more active role in the investigations.  Their view is the truth is sometimes best left buried, whereas Daly believes in justice regardless of the potential consequences, a position that few of his colleagues share given their experiences of the Troubles.  He continues to hunt for Devine’s killers and to locate Hughes, but all he seems to find are ghosts.

The premise for Disappeared is a compelling one: what happens to secrets, informers and controllers when a dirty war ends and a peace process unfolds?  What happens to families who are tainted by lies, deception and compromises, who want to know the truth about their loved one’s death and to recover the body for formal burial?  And what would be the consequences of key players seeking atonement for past actions or breaking their silence to reveal damaging truths?  Quinn places the reader in modern day Armagh and the coastline of Lough Neagh to explore these questions, showing how wars never really end, but tail away in a set of ugly cover-ups and revisionist history making.  It takes a few pages for the plot to find a sure path, but then the story unfolds through a compelling narrative.  This is aided by just the right mix of characters with suitable back stories, and some nice interchanges as they dance around each other, all seeking a satisfactory resolution, but not one they share.  The characterisation of Hughes, with his developing Alzheimer’s, Inspector Daly, and Dermot Jordan, the son of an IRA member murdered for being a suspected informer, are particularly nicely done.  Throughout, Quinn evokes a strong sense of place and history.  Overall, a thoughtful and engaging read.  I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review of Corridors of Death by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Poison Pen Press, 2007; first pub 1982)

Sir Nicholas Clark has climbed the greasy ladder in Whitehall to become head of the Department of Conservation.  On the way he has become bitter and twisted, gaining a reputation for treating his colleagues with contempt without ever being seen to stab them in the back.  After a meeting that was disastrous for his Minister he is found clubbed to death in a lavatory.  Superintendent Jim Milton is assigned to the politically charged case, with the suspects including ministers of state, senior civil servants, and major industrialists.  He finds an ally in Clark’s private secretary, Robert Amiss, who is prepared to reveal the convoluted workings of the British civil service and how Clark spent the weekend before his death deliberately antagonizing family members and those attending the meeting.  Not short of suspects with good reason to hate Clark, Milton is under pressure to achieve a quick result, though Whitehall tends to work at its own pace and in its own ways.

Corridors of Death is the first of the Robert Amiss mysteries and blends British establishment satire with crime fiction.  For me the story was ‘Yes, Minister’ meets golden age British crime novel, a la Agatha Christie.  Edwards keeps the storytelling light, engaging and witty, without undermining the mystery and the seriousness of the case.  The labyrinth bureaucracy and petty personal politics of Whitehall is well depicted.  And the characterisation of politicians, civil servants and family relations are nicely observed.  The style is all show and no tell, and well paced, with the plot having a number of twists and feints.  My only reservation was the denouement, which although plausible didn’t quite seem to ring true.  Nevertheless, Corridors of Death is an engaging and entertaining read that I felt was ready made for adaptation to the small screen. I certainly intend to read other books in the series.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some St Patrick's Day reading

If you're looking for some reading for St Patrick's Day here are twelve novels by Irish authors that are worth tucking into - all reviewed on the blog last year. 

The Reckoning by Jane Casey
Graveland by Alan Glynn
Little Criminals by Gene Kerrigan
The Devil I Know by Claire Kilroy
Irregulars by Kevin McCarthy
The Lost by Claire McGowan
I Hear Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty
Ratlines by Stuart Neville
Crocodile Tears by Mark O'Sullivan
The City of Strangers by Michael Russell
The Twelfth Department by William Ryan
Once in Another World Brendan John Sweeney

I'll be reviewing two other books by Irish authors on the blog this week.  Corridors of Death by Ruth Dudley Edwards and Disappeared by Anthony Quinn.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lazy Sunday Service

On Thursday I went to the launch of the Moving Words exhibition in the Illuminations Gallery in the Iontas Building in NUI Maynooth.  The exhibition charts the development of kinetic poetry and prose through digital media from 1984 to 2014.  It's an interesting collection and I thought I'd have a go at creating my own moving words piece using my drabble from yesterday - Oddly Absent.  It's not quite kinetic, but hopefully it's in the right spirit.

Oddly Absent from Rob Kitchin on Vimeo.

My posts this week:
New book cover: The Data Revolution
 Review of The Safe Word by Karen Long
TBR getting out of hand
Interactive city benchmarking sites
Review of Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo
Oddly absent

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oddly absent

He stared down in confusion at the oblong block in his hand and the numbers arranged in a grid.  He knew it was important; that he was waiting for it do something.  But its use seemed tantalisingly out of reach.  Like a balloon on the end of a string.  Increasingly he felt oddly absent, aware that his thoughts and memories could drift in and out of focus.  Sometimes he wondered if it would be better to be immersed in full dementia than to exist in a half-light?  The phone started to play a tune.  He smiled as cognizance returned. ‘Hello?’ 

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review of Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo (Europa Editions, 2005, first pub 1995)

After a wild period of youthful years, involving a set of armed robberies and the shared love of Lole, Ugo, Manu and Fabio go their separate ways.  Twenty years later and Ugo returns to Marseilles to avenge the death of Manu, who is reputed to have been killed by the Mob.  There he meets, Lole, sending her away as he prepares his revenge.  As he flees from killing who he thinks is responsible for Manu’s death, Ugo is gunned down by the police.  At this point, Fabio Montale, now a cop, enters the fray seeking justice for his childhood friends.  However, neither his colleagues or the Mob want Montale poking around, and the situation soon descends in total chaos.

Total Chaos is the instalment in Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy featuring Fabio Montale.  First published in 1995 it is said to be the originator of ‘Mediterranean noir.’  The strength of the story is its very strong sense of place and time, with Izzo placing the reader in the complex social geography of the Marseilles and its mix of immigrants, stalling economy, racial and class tension, corruption, and its sights, sounds, smells and taste (especially food); it's a city he clearly loves despite its tensions and problems.  The characterisation is well realised, with a fairly large cast of players.  The story itself, however, is a little too complex, entwining two separate plotlines, relying on a couple of plot devices to do so, and overall it feels a little too contrived and with too many cliches in terms of the characters and plot.  As a result, I was never quite captured or captivated by the story.  Nevertheless, it’s an interesting enough noir read, with a very strong sense of place.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

TBR getting out of hand

I've been buying books faster than I can read them for a little while now.  I had a sort through the to be read pile yesterday, splitting it into two - those I'm likely to read in the next while and those that will keep for a rainy day.  And that process ignored the virtual pile on the kindle and the pile of academic books I have to read.  I have two more books on order, but after than I'm going to try to abstain for a few weeks to create a bit of space on the shelf.  And here is 'live' TBR.  Should keep me going for a while (about 5 months if I don't buy any others; which, of course, I will).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review of The Safe Word by Karen Long (Createspace, 2014)

Detective Inspector Eleanor Raven has a dark secret that she’d like to keep hidden from her colleagues - sadomasochist sex with anonymous men.  However, when women of a similar disposition start to be killed by a murderer with an artistic bent in her home city of Toronto, her personal and work life become entwined.  Under pressure to catch the killer, Raven and her misfit team struggle to identify the killer and bring him to justice.  And unknown to Raven, she is a lot closer to the case than she realises.

The Safe Word is a reasonably competent, run-of-the-mill serial killer police procedural set in Toronto.  The story is engaging enough, but the premise is a little tired given the spree of such novels in recent years, and relies on a few too many plot devices to help the investigation along.  The ending is somewhat telegraphed and there are some unanswered questions with respect to the case and characters.  Eleanor Raven is a bit of a cold fish and there is little in the way of fleshing out her back story or development of her character.  Moreover, the sense of place is a little lacking; the story could have been happening anywhere.  The strength of the novel is the team around Raven, who provide an interesting ensemble cast that add life and realism to the plot through some nice interchanges.  Overall, an okay debut, with a set of characters that have the potential to populate a decent series.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New book cover: The Data Revolution

The cover for my forthcoming book The Data Revolution: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and Their Consequences has been decided on (right).  It uses an image produced by Nadav Hochman, Lev Manovich and Jay Chow in a paper on First Monday that visualizes 33,292 photos uploaded to Instagram in Tel Aviv during 20–26 April 2012.  The book is now in production and should be published in August.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lazy Sunday Service

Yesterday I picked up three new books and placed them on the to-be-read pile: Corridors of Death by Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Disappeared by Anthony Quinn, and The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri.  I'm going to try a month without buying any more since I've been purchasing books faster than I can read them for the past few weeks.

My posts this week:

Review of Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
Review of The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly
February reads

Saturday, March 8, 2014


George lifted the mallet and brought it down on top of the post with a solid thump.  In the distance a dog barked in reply.  He repeated the action until the post was firmly anchored in the clay soil, then stared across the valley at the approaching dark clouds.  It would be raining soon and he still had half the length of the field to fence.  He tacked on the wire and as the first drops fell strolled to his battered jeep.  Gazing vacantly out the windscreen he sipped tea from a thermos and waited for the rain to pass.

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Review of Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon (1930, reprinted 2013, Penguin)

Detective Chief Inspector Maigret of the Parisian Flying Squad receives notice that the Pietr the Latvian, a notorious con artist is on his way to Paris.  He heads to the Gare du Nord to meet the train he is travelling on.  As the travellers disembark, Maigret thinks he’s spotted Pietr, but a commotion at a carriage reveals a man matching Pietr’s description shot dead in a toilet.  Maigret trails the first man to an upmarket hotel, where he has booked into a suite and is preparing to meet an American millionaire.  Meanwhile, an examination of the dead man’s possession points to a link to a coastal town.  Maigret travels there, identifying the dead man’s family, and spying a man who bears a strong resemblance to both the dead man and one resident in the hotel.  Returning to Paris, he steps up his observations on the hotel, hoping that the police presence will prompt who he believes is Pietr to make a mistake.  What it prompts is a second murder and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pietr the Latvian is the first book in Simenon’s famous series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Maigret, which ran for 75 novels and 28 short stories.  Maigret makes for an attractive lead character, with an assertive presence and tenacity in his pursuit of justice, pushing himself and prompting others into action and mistakes.  Simenon writes in a tight, all tell and no show fashion using a workmanlike prose, keeping the story moving at a fair clip, with little in the way of character development and no derivation from the essentials of the storyline.  Although the book is relatively short at 160 pages, quite a lot happens in its plot, which has enough feints and minor twists to keep the reader engaged, though its general arc is quite linear and telegraphed. And although the story was published in 1930, it does not feel too dated, other than Maigret trying to get warm by always stoking the stove in his room, partially because the story seems a little timeless and placeless.  Overall, an interesting and enjoyable start to the series.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review of The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly (Hodder, 2012)

Deep in the Maine woods the wreckage of a plane is discovered by two hunters.  Inside it is empty except for a bag of money and a list of names.  Troubled by the sense that they are being watched by malign spirits, the two hunters flee to the safety of a local town.  There they keep their silence, despite the interest of a beautiful woman in sightings of a plane, until one is dead and the other dying.  On his deathbed, the aged hunter tells his daughter who then seeks out Charlie Parker, a detective with a history of tangling with the supernatural, especially fallen angels.  Parker sets out to find the plane in the hope of recovering the list of names - people who have supposedly sold their soul for material gain.  He is not the only one seeking the list, however, with forces of good and evil gathering to locate the plane, and two entities already circling the site and each other.

My impression from reading several of John Connolly’s books is that he’s a natural born storyteller.  His writing appears effortless rather than being worked at: it’s engaging and evocative, possessing a strong voice which seems to talk directly to the reader - it sounds as good read out loud as it reads on the page.  The Wrath of Angels is the eleventh book in the Charlie Parker series and the characters are now very well established, with several beyond his sidekicks Louie and Angel making an appearance, as is the kind of case that Parker finds himself entangled in - and he is always entangled, rather than simply investigating.  As ever, the characterisation is nicely realised, with some very nice verbal interchanges, there is a deep sense of place with respect to Maine, and the story is infused with supernatural elements without them over-dominating the story or pushing the tale off into fantasy.  The plot is interesting and engaging, and infused with a darkness and underlying tension, but is rather straightforward and a little too linear, especially towards the end.  Indeed, the ending seemed a bit rushed, the denouement being rather too neat.  Nonetheless, The Wrath of Angels is a very solid addition to the series.

Monday, March 3, 2014

February reads

A slow month of reading, but a good one.  My read of the month was William McIlvanney's The Papers of Tony Veitch.  There's a reason this trilogy of books have been re-released: they're damn good.

The End: Germany 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw ***.5
The Papers of Tony Veitch by William McIlvanney *****
Dark Winter by David Mark ***.5
All the Dead Voices by Declan Hughes ****
The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott ****
Darkhouse by Alex Barclay *****

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lazy Sunday Service

I'm on way home after a weekend in Oxford.  On Friday I presented a Bellwether lecture at Oxford University, then on Saturday met up with old friends.  I've also managed to finish John Connolly's The Wrath of Angels and Georges Simenon's Peitr the Latvian.  Hopefully I'll post reviews of both in the coming days.

My posts this week:
The real-time city? Big data and smart urbanism
Review of The End: Germany 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw
Official launch of The Programmable City programme
Medal, salmon of knowledge, Charlemont
Seagulls and crows

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seagulls and crows

A squabble of seagulls jolted Cahill awake.  Through a slit in his hide he watched them swirl and squawk then drop onto a recently ploughed field.  Their wings still unfurled, they tottered on the ridges of thick clay like drunken matadors.  Cahill rubbed his tired his eyes and wondered when and why seabirds had given up on the ocean to claim the territory of crows?  He trained his binoculars on the farmhouse, then onto the laneway where a speeding police car had appeared, its lights flashing.  Now he knew how the crows felt, glaring at the field from the trees.

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.