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Talk of the Town - Jacob Polley

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Jacob Polley / ISBN: 9780330509930 / Publication Date: 2009 / Publisher: Picador

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      05.02.2012 10:12
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      The missing boy

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Christopher Hearsey is a fourteen year old boy enjoying the last few days of the school summer holidays. The year is 1986 and he lives in Carlisle with his Mum and Dad and younger sister. But Chris is becoming more concerned by the disappearance of his best friend Arthur who has not been seen for several days. So after talking to a few local characters on the local scene he finds out his friend unknown to him has been seen with a girl from down his street so he goes to visit her (Gill Ross) to see if she can shed any light on this matter.


      Meanwhile the town is still coming to terms with the tramp who was burnt to death in the park. The talk of the town is this was a wealthy man who choose to turn his back on his life and live on the streets. Chris decides as the Police don't seem to be doing anything to see if he can find his missing friend but will Gill help him? As he tries to unravel this mystery and in so doing deal with the demons that haunt him.


      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      My overall opinion of this fictional adventure mystery was it was very interesting and good novel.
      However there where many things I liked about this story but there where also things that disappointed me and thought could have been improved upon. I think the main thing this story did and why I enjoyed it was because it made me continuously think given the same situation how would I try and resolve it.


      This is Jacob Polley's début novel, which was written in 2009. I must admit until I picked up this book at a local car boot sale I had never heard of him. What persuaded me to try this book was firstly, I was looking for a slightly different story from my usual Detective stories. Secondly, I was very impressed by the compliments by various publications about this story. I usually criticise authors if they have these compliments about their work in general but on this occasion it was most helpful because it was specifically about the book I was about to read. Lastly, it was on sale for just 50p and at that price I really couldn't go wrong.


      The summary of the story on the back cover was in my view a little too short. It was two paragraphs long but within that there was plenty of detail and the author shared the key strands from the story. In a short summary he was able to captivate my interest by making what was happening some both interesting and mysterious.


      However when I started reading the actual story I was in for a nasty surprise and something that made the book for me hard to read and less enjoyable. The story was written from Christopher's view point and with him being from Carlisle when he was thinking or talking his accent was used. I found this made me have to read some sentences several times so that I understood what was being said. For me this slowed the process down and I am not convinced I understood everything that was written. Fine if you understood this dialect but as I didn't I found it heavy going and it really marred my progress and enjoyment.


      Despite this I still found the story quite easy to get into and I liked the way the story developed. As at no time did I have any idea what direction the story was going to take next and I liked that concept. It also frequently surprised me with the way it went and some of the twists and turns where very clever and so unexpected.

      I found the author's very intelligent writing very good as I felt he was always asking questions and making you wonder exactly what had happened. With a solution that I didn't see coming and impressed me. The only problem was understanding the Carlisle accent especially when the author took you back in advise the reader of previous incidents. I found this a little confusing at times as we went from the past to the present in quick succession.


      The story was very well constructed and I found I was very eager to not only find out the solution to the mysteries but also to see what would happen next to Christopher and the other main characters in the story. And while I was impressed with the mysteries solution I was far less with what happened to the characters within it. I think the author was leaving a lot of this up to the reader to decide and as a result I thought the ending was far too short and ultimately disappointing. I would have preferred at least an epilogue as I felt a lot was left unanswered and I would really liked to have known what happened next.

      The story was full of the unknown, new experiences and adventures for the central characters. I found it was full of suspense as I had no idea what would happen to Christopher next. It was always well paced with so much action and also at times it was funny too. A few of the scenes where cleverly written putting wit and humour into an otherwise very serious story about growing up in an deprived society.


      Christopher Hearsey was the central character in this story and maybe because the author had such a good insight into his personality I found it very easy to understand and relate to the boy. He described his thought and actions really well and I found him easy to like. I liked his vulnerability and the way he was in the main treading uncharted territory as he sort to resolve the mystery of his missing friend that led onto other adventures.

      With the lead character being male and the author really getting into his head to describe what it was like to be a confused adolescent, I think this book would appeal more to the male population. As it is written from this perspective, but that said it should not deter anyone as it is a good, cleverly written piece of fiction.


      Although I felt Christopher was well supported by an interesting array of other characters. The author clearly had gone to town on some of these pushing their different characteristics to the extreme, that made then easily recognisable and often quite funny. I liked the nicknames Christopher had for them which I think given his age and level of development would have been quite in keeping with his own character to do this. The only thing I would have liked was to have more detailed descriptions of Arthur and Gill as I struggled to picture them with limit information about them. That said I thought the quality of the conversations where excellent, the author clearly showed the difference when Christopher was dealing with grown ups, his friends and girls and his insecurities really came through when dealing with these in different settings.

      I felt the story should have been longer than it was as while the detail and depth of the story where in the main excellent, I did feel the conclusion was far too brief. I would have preferred a longer finish that spent time going over the answers so there was no room for miss interpretation and the author advised us what happens next to all the main characters in the story, as I felt slightly robbed with this poor finish to the story.


      ==Conclusion:==


      I thought for a first novel this was a very well thought out piece of fiction. I really liked the intelligent writing and the way the author was excellent at describing and dealing with Christopher's feeling. It was a good story that was full of the unexpected with a excellent solution. However I did struggle the whole way through following and understanding the local dialogue. With a conclusion that did not do the rest of the story justice as it left too much answered.


      ==Other Information:==

      Pages: 256
      Price: 2.55 (New at Amazon)
      Publisher: Picador
      ISBN-10: 0330509934
      ISBN-13: 978-0330509930
      Year first Published: 2009
      About the author: www.jacobpolley.com

      Thanks for reading.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.


      © CPTDANIELS February 2012.

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