Booker Prize

Books in Brief: The Colour of Blood, The Luminaries and Jar City

The Colour of Blood (Paladin Books) Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987

The Colour of Blood by Brian Moore

Five words from the blurb: conflict, Church, state, political, suspense 

Brian Moore was shortlisted for the Booker three times (in 1976, 1987 and 1990) and so I was keen to try his work. The Colour of Blood is a political thriller involving  Catholic activists, an unnamed Eastern block country, and the Security Services. Unfortunately it hasn’t aged well. It might make an interesting read if you are studying the Cold War, but the writing and the attitudes of the characters felt dated. At less than 200 pages it was a quick read, but I felt I’d wasted those few hours of my life. Very disappointing.




The Luminaries Shortlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Five words from the blurb: New Zealand, goldfield, men, crime, mystery

The Luminaries is fantastic book and it deserves to win this year’s Booker Prize. It is beautifully written, perfectly captures New Zealand’s 19th century gold rush, and has a whole host of literary merits; but unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

I invested a significant amount of time reading the first 250 pages of this book. I initially loved the atmosphere and historic detail, but after a while I became frustrated by the incredibly slow plot. If I am to invest days/weeks reading a massive 800+ page chunkster like this I really need to care about the characters and have a desire to find out what happens next. Unfortunately the characters were a bit distant and I began to dread having to continue with this book. I didn’t care who’d murdered who and became irritated by the meandering plot. Sadly I abandoned it, but I know many people will think it is the best book of 2013. It probably is.



Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1) Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Five words from the blurb: Reykjavik, Detective, haunt, genetic, secrets

Jar City isn’t my normal choice of reading material. It is a fast paced, dialogue lead piece of crime fiction. I read it as part of my Icelandic fiction binge and found it an enjoyable distraction, but instantly forgettable. Three weeks on I can remember next to nothing about what happened. It is a typical light mystery in which the murder is solved via a series of fairly unrealistic discoveries. If you’re after an entertaining read that doesn’t stretch the brain cells then there’s nothing wrong with this one.



12 replies on “Books in Brief: The Colour of Blood, The Luminaries and Jar City”

Steph, I had mixed feelings about ‘The Rehearsal’. At times I thought it was trying too hard to be clever and I’m sure a lot of it went over my head. I was worried about even starting ‘The Luminaries’ but it was much more conventional in structure. Both books show she has an amazing talent. I don’t thikn this will be the last time she appears on the Booker shortlist!

I really want to read ‘The Luminaries’ but I know at the moment it would likely take me about a fortnight to get through as I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like, so I’ve been putting it off, reasoning that I could get through three shorter books in the same amount of time. Maybe one to get to over Christmas!

I have a couple of Brain Moore’s books in the Bloomsbury Classics editions from the 90s but haven’t got around to them yet. His ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’ seemed to be getting reviewed (very favourably) all over blogland a couple of years ago, thanks in part I think to a new NYRB edition, so perhaps that one has aged better?

David, I calculated that it would take me about 40 hours to read ‘The Luminaries’ (the text is so rich that I was averaging about 3 minutes a page) I could probably read about 8 average-sized books in that time! I’m sure you’ll love it, but I know you are more tolerant of slower books than I am.

I haven’t got any of Moore’s other books, but I would be willing to give him another try – if the subject matter isn’t political. *heads off to look up blog reviews for ‘Judith Hearne’*

I tried Jar City a few years ago but never got into it. I have kept it, though, to give it another try.

I will say that I enjoyed the movie version quite a bit. That that bit about eating sheep head still grosses me out.

I wanted to like The Luminaries, but I was put off immediately by what I thought was the ridiculously over-written first section involving the guy basically standing in front of a mirror. If I’d read 799 more pages like that I think I’d have lost the will to live.

Mark, I found several sections really slow too. Sometimes I loved the way tiny details were described, but in the end it did drive me crazy and I was just internally shouting “get on with it!!” Sounds as though you should give it a wide berth!

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