Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride – 2005
I am an advocate and active petitioner for people to read more, because it seems that sitting down with a good book is something that may not be a thing in a couple of generations… but Cold Granite irked me, and the majority of its local readers irked me even more.
MacBride is a Scottish author and Cold Granite is set here, in Aberdeen. Now, I’ve got no problem with parochial content, nor have I got a problem with trying to write for a specific audience, but if I got a pound (£) from every person – most of whom haven’t read a book since The Hungry Caterpillar – who came up to me in 2005 and 2006 and asked if I had read this glorious novel, my pockets would be full.
Eventually I bowed to peer pressure and read it, and the book is entirely average in almost every respect. Friends and acquaintances who insisted I read it were – I can only assume – doing so because it delighted them that familiar streets and locations popped up in the text. Let’s forget the fact that the writing is basic, the plot has been done a thousand times before, and the central character is about as typical a police detective as fiction can throw up. It’s by no means terrible, but it’s just like a thousand other cop thrillers out there.
If you’ve got nothing to compare it to, then yes, Cold Granite is probably a pretty good story, but I’ve read too widely for this to stand out from the pack in any way, and I need more in a story than a checklist of places that I recognise.
Yesterday, someone asked me what – if anything – I would consign to Room 101. You know, stuff that annoys me; irks me. Things that make me want to reach for the nearest blunt object. For the few of you out there who are not familiar with the reference, read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s one of the best novels you can get your hands on.
Anyway, I drew up a list which I was going to post in its entirety, but it turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would. So here, in no particular order, is the first clutch of those things that currently… make me want to count to ten.
- People who talk on their mobiles/cells at upwards of 127 decibels. You’re on the phone: you really don’t need to shout! If you want to do so please wait until I have vacated the area and am suitably out of earshot.
- And still on phones: people who find it imperative to tell the other person the minutiae of their every move: “I’m on the bus; yeah, I’m just passing the corner store now. Wait a minute, we’re stopped at the lights. I’ll just be a minute. Oh! I can see you now. Look, I’m waving. Can you see me? Yeah, I’m wearing my red coat. Thanks, I decided to treat myself. You’re right, I do deserve it. Ok, I’m just getting off now. Right, I’m hanging up…”
- People (usually teenagers) who play music on their mobiles without headphones (usually on a bus), with the express intention of making everyone else listen to it. Why do they do this? The quality is rarely crystal and it’s always an artist or band that makes you want to jam the phone down the user’s throat just to see if you can still hear it from the depths of their stomach.
- Adults who look to Harry Potter and/or Twilight for points of reference, disregarding the fact that these books/movies are aimed squarely at people no more than half their age. Minus one point for those who take pride in being able to quote these characters, and minus another point for the ones who attend fancy dress parties as either Dumbledore or Edward Cullen.
- Women who haven’t read a book since The Hungry Caterpillar at school, yet managed to get through all three volumes of Fifty Shades, which now serves as their benchmark for what is good or bad in the world of literature. No, reading one titillating trilogy does not allow you to have an opinion on anything else – it barely categorises you as a reader. You’re just a horny housewife who has read three shit books, that’s all.
…more to follow, once I calm down…