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Corny Lines

Last week at the local library, I was delighted to discover Blood of Angels, Michael Marshall’s latest novel in the “Straw Men” series. Having borrowed it, devoured it and immensely enjoyed it, I have borrowed the first in the series from John and am now half-way through reading that as well.

Marshall has a very effective writing style that lends itself well to the thriller genre; he mixes first and third person observation along with asides about the hopes and dreams of people who are probably about to die horribly just over the page but for whom you now feel unavoidable sympathy.

He also gets away with the most ludicrously corny imagery from time to time. As an example, four sentences into the prelude of The Straw Men comes this line:

The town sits on the Allegheny River, in the shade of muscular hills, and has more trees than you could shake a stick at unless you had a lot of time and were unusually demented.

That kind of line sounds like it should belong in the oft-circulated list of dodgy metaphors rather than a serious and gripping thriller but, under Marshall’s artistry, it forms an unexpected complement. Fruitcake and cheshire cheese rather than a plate of straw.

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