Friday, September 23, 2005

What is a Potboiler?

In the previous post I confessed my predilection for trash.
Last week, a friend visiting me offered me a choice of novels to borrow. I picked 'Bleeding Hearts ' by 'Ian Rankin writing as Jack Harvey', largely because I have an erudite brother who has encouraged me to read some Ian Rankin. Now perhaps starting with novels he writes under a pseudonym may not be the right approach, but is Ian Rankin his real name?
In any case the friend and I met again last night and I said I found it an enjoyable potboiler - after all, it was written from the point of view of an ex-SASer, who spends the novel taking revenge on the killers of his reporter brother. For a male, lying in the bathtub, fighting unwelcome buoyancy, reading the book, and identifying with a hero sticking a knife into a tough guy, this seems ideal.
But we dug deeper. And as it turns out, even though the hero presents his marriage as strained, and he arrives back in London at the start of his mission of revenge to find an unexpected woman in his brother's apartment, and the two of them clearly find one another attractive, they never have sex in the days they spend initiating the revenge quest, and she never reappears in the novel after she sets him off after the bad guys!
So I guess this novel is too subtle to be a potboiler.


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