GaryView: Sherlock Holmes – “The Last Vampyre” (starring Jeremy Brett)

Gary: That’s not how I remember the original story.

Lissa: It’s nothing much like ‘The Sussex Vampire” at all, is it?

Gary: Conan Doyle wouldn’t be impressed. Holmes wouldn’t be impressed.

Lissa: You’re clearly not impressed.

Gary: No. I’m not.

Lissa: It’s a shame, because I really liked Jeremy Brett as Holmes. I watched some of those early episodes with Nanna, and I liked them so much she bought me a collection of the original stories for Christmas. I hardly spoke to anyone all Christmas Day because I couldn’t put it down, except to ask what some of the words meant. I was pretty young.

Gary: The original stories are great. I always wanted to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes. I used to try to deduce stuff about people at school.

Lissa: How accurate were you?

Gary: Not very. I was only twelve. People didn’t make much sense to me. Still don’t, as a rule.

Lissa: <laughs> Never mind. I did the same you know. Tried to work out things about people. I did it a lot at the hospital, when Belinda went in for treatment. I tried to guess who people were, if they were doctors or family. <sobers> Family were pretty easy to spot. They mostly looked like they’d been crying, or were about to cry. The patients mostly looked scared or angry. Doctors looked preoccupied.

Gary: Yeah. I remember that from hospital too.

Lissa: …. So. So. What did you like least about this version?

Gary: Apart from the fact they should have stuck to the original story? Um. Everything?

Lissa: I didn’t like the way they telegraphed “oooooooh, this might be a real vaaaaaampiiiiiiiiiiire” – sorry – ‘vampyyyyyyyyyre’ when we knew it couldn’t be because Sherlock Holmes doesn’t do the supernatural.

Gary: Though of course vampires are real.

Lissa: Real, yes, but not cheesy.

Gary: I know what I hated the most. Those people burning the weird teacher’s books after he died. That made me mad. People who burn books are idiots.

Lissa: Yet another reason why you are in the list of my top five favourite people in the world.

Gary: I’m in the top five?

Lissa: Yep. And of those top five, only you and Kate are actually still… I suppose ‘alive’ isn’t quite right, is it? But here. You and Kate are here, and Belinda, Paul and Nanna are not. But you’re all still my five favourite people in the world.

Gary: That’s… cool. <smiles> Thanks.

Lissa: Anytime. Now let’s watch some of the good Jeremy Brett episodes. ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’?

Gary: Or ‘The Red-Headed League’.

Lissa: Or both!

Gary: Good thinking.

Buy Sherlock Holmes – The Last Vampyre at Amazon.com

*For newcomers, the GaryView is a review of books/films/TV/entertainment carried out as a conversation between Lissa Wilson (librarian) and Gary Hooper (vampire) , characters from my book ‘The Opposite of Life’.

Review: Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Justine Larbalestier delivers another fresh, unexpected tale with this story of Micah, a habitual liar. It’s difficult to comment without giving away major plot points, but the nub of it is that Micah’s friend Zach has been murdered, and this book is her attempt to peel away the layers of lies which she tells to uncover the truth.

The story is told in three parts. The first is her story of what happened, both before and after Zach’s death. It’s full of her confessions of the lies she’s told, and hints of a mysterious family illness which have influenced the course of her life. In the second part, the secret of that family illness is revealed. Then, in the third part, Micah goes back to the story she has told and confesses to more lies therein. The stories continue, but we are left with the constant doubt that this, now, is the truth at last.

The last page reminds me a little of Yann Martel’s “The Life of Pi”, though possibly if I say why it will be a spoiler for both books. But behind both is an examination of how we construct stories to make our worlds more bearable.

It’s a beautifully plotted book, written with lively warmth. Micah is a very real person, even within the tangled knot of truths and stories she tells. In the end, deciding how much of what she has said is real is left to the reader. I know what I believe. What’s your decision?

Buy Liar at Amazon.com.

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark
Dead Until Dark

Having watched the True Blood tv series before reading any of CHarlaine Harris’ books, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the source material. It turns out that the Harris books are funnier than the series. They also address some of the moral issues (mainly, how Sookie feels about the fact tht Bill is a killer) that are glossed over in the series.

There are differences between the first season of True Blood and this first novel in the series – I missed seeing so much of Lafayette, and Tara is completely absent from this book. There is still a lot of hot sex, though, and Sam is as gently compelling here as in the show.

Enough of comparisons, though. Dead Until Dark, taken on its own terms, is a a fun read. Sookie is vivacious, smart though naive, afflicted with a ‘gift’ and enthusiastic about the new and unusual in life. Bill the Vampire (and I loved how she laughed at his prosaic name) is brooding and mysterious, a real Darcy-esque vampire, but with enough that is different and intriguing to set him a little apart from the vast array of brooding romantic vampires out there.

With an unworldly but intelligent heroine, a cast of interesting and textured characters to populate her world, and a horde of vampires just as varied, it’s hardly surprising that the Sookie Stackhouse novels are so popular, or that they have inspired such a popular TV series.

Buy Dead Until Dark (Original MM Art) (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)at Amazon.com

Review: Digger J Jones by Richard J Frankland

Digger J JonesI’ve enjoyed Richard J Frankland’s work as a playwright for many years – I was delighted to see his first book on the stand.

Eleven year old Digger J Jones is a terrific character – a feisty little scamp with a lot of personality. His diary entries make up the story – short, snappy observations from an alert, smart and funny kid.

The book, set in 1967 at the time of the Vietnam War and the Australian referendum for Australian Aborigines to finally be counted in the national census, looks at these historical events through a child’s eye. Digger’s straightforward assessment of how they impact on his life cut to the chase.

The loss of his brother Paul in Vietnam and his determination to ‘fight that discrimination’ and be counted as a citizen are explored alongside his day to day adventures – making enemies and friends, trying to live up to his newfound love for the nun Ally, discovering that poetry isn’t just for girls, and getting up to shenanigans with his best friend.

Digger J Jones is bursting with humour and heart. It might be a good book for any child – particularly boys – who have trouble getting into reading.

Buy Digger J Jones from Boomerang Books

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