A couple of charity shop finds. And they could hardly be more different if they tried.
The first is a 'two books in one volume' by David Hewson, who specialises in thrillers set in modern-day Italy but often with historical overtones. Or perhaps I should say hysterical, since the one I've tackled, 'The Garden of Evil', reads like Dan Brown on a slightly better day. The style is reasonable but the plot is a wild and indigestible concoction of murder, religious cults and medieval art and the characters are so wooden you could chop them into planks and make wardrobes out of them. Indeed, the only character who came to life in any way died at the end of the first chapter and after that I rapidly lost interest, not helped by illogical and irrational dialogue that sounds as though a mad editor has simply hacked out every tenth line, so none of the conversations quite make sense.
I've given up, at least for now, and moved on to the other book - 'The Brutal Art' by Jesse Kellerman. So far I've only read a handful of chapters but it's brilliant. Oddly, this also involves art and murder but both elements are far more original and far more gripping and the style is a wonderful mix of vivid description and self-deprecating, wry humour. I can't wait to read the rest.
Both books only cost me 75p each, which makes the latter an unbelievable bargain and the former less of an annoyance than if I'd paid full price for it.