Sunday, April 3, 2011

Romanno Bridge

Sometimes I am up for a bit of heavy-duty non-fiction, experimental novels or multi-layered literary fiction with fractured timelines. Sometimes though, all I am looking for is a cracking yarn.

Andrew Greig's Romanno Bridge certainly doesn't disappoint on that front. Reprising his characters from The Return of John MacNab a few years on he entangles them in a far more dangerous and brutal adventure. John MacNab had a very genteel sense of British fair-play compared with Romanno Bridge ...

Starting out with a suicide deep in Rothiemurchus Forest the plot plunges headlong into ancient secret societies and the search for the real(?) Stone of Destiny, racing all over Scotland with diversions to London, Canada and Norway.

Often with this type of story the reader has to allow the author a bit of leeway to get beyond some of the more far-fetched elements, but even so there can't be any holes in the plot or characters with defects or who aren't believable. Some of the characters do seem to turn-up in exactly the right place at the right time and I had heard comments from some who felt that Kirsty could only ever exist in a male novelist's head. There are elements of her that are almost too good to be true, but it was never a problem for me. I wanted to believe, so it all felt real.

Of course everything works out all right by the end and the good guys prevail. Even so he keeps you on your toes right up to the last pages and the ending avoids any whiff of sentimentality. It just feels right, and sometimes that is exactly what you need from a book.

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