Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Book Number 48
A Cleft Of Stars (1973) by Geoffrey Jenkins
For the most part, all the books that I have read this year have been entertaining, if not excellent. It was inevitable that a really crap book would slip through the cracks.
I heard about this South African author Geoffrey Jenkins who wrote adventure stories. He was often mentioned along with some of my other favorites such as Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes or Alistair Maclean. They generally write strong adventure books that are set in exotic locations often with a wrongly persecuted hero trying to clear his name or solve a mystery.
So I took a shot on this Jenkins book. The story starts out with a diamond expert leaving prison after having served his sentence for illegally trading in diamonds. He gets out a week early and has a tip on where to find the man who set him up. It's a small hill in the wilds of South Africa where he met his girlfriend on an archeological dig. Thats all in the first chapter. The entire rest of the book involves him running around this tiny little area (there's even a map) battling it out with his nemesis.
That may sound like a straightforward concept but the story lurches around like a drunken sailor. Plotlines appear and disappear haphazardly, characters pop up for no apparent reason and I still can't tell you why he was set up in the first place.
My final analysis is that I would take a wide pass on this book and approach the author with care. Ian Fleming once said "Geoffrey Jenkins has the supreme gift of originality.... A Twist of Sand is a literate, imaginative first novel in the tradition of high and original adventure". Who knows, that might be a better book.
Posted by Jason L