Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Book 16

"House Of Cards" by Michael Dobbs

First off, let me say that no I didn't read this whole book in just over three days. I actually started it a while ago, but only just got back into it. And I'm sorry to say I was more than a little disappointed. Francis Urquhart is one of my favourite villains of all time. Or is that heroes? :) That said, I should point out that I base this opinion on the TV mini-series(s) and the excellent job Sir Ian Richardson (acting legend that he is) does of making him one of the most likeable bastards ever. So imagine how sad I was when I read the book that spawned this brilliant character and found him not the in control, urbane, charming schemer of the series but a nicotine stained, uncertain (sometimes) man who manages merely to be kinda creepy.

If you've seen the series, then I can say that the story is roughly the same, with the political back-biting and intrigues, however the series does depart from the book in several significant ways. I won't go into them here, because they're huge spoilers. If you haven't seen the series, I'll say that the plot centres on Francis Urquhart (the Chief Whip for the ruling political party in the UK) getting his revenge on the Prime Minister who failed to reward him for his years of hard work, and his (Urquhart's) machinatoins as he tries for the job of PM himself. Piecing together the true story behind the public face is young, up-and-coming, female reporter by the name of Mattie Storin. "House Of Cards" is a sharp, well-plotted thriller that obeys it's own logic to the letter. It also doesn't fall into the 'give the heroine a sudden leap of logic to get her the answers' trap that some thrillers do.

I just wish I'd read the book before I'd seen the show. Dobb's writing is smooth and well-paced, but for a visually- and theatrically-minded person such as myself, Sir Ian's Urquhart kept popping up and influencing my opinion. Sorry, Mr Dobbs.

3 cocaine-addicted PR men out of 5.


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