Eleven Days (Carrigan and Miller 2) by Stav Sherez

eleven daysGrim and grey but still very readable…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

When a fire engulfs a convent in London, the ten nuns who make up the Order are all killed. But there is another body too, and it’s up to Detectives Jack Carrigan and Geneva Miller to find out who she was and why she was there. This is a complex, somewhat sprawling thriller that looks not just at the underbelly of crime in London but also at politics within the Roman Catholic church, and across the world to the impact of big business on the peasants of Peru.

Although this is the second in the Carrigan and Miller series, it works well as a standalone. I haven’t read the first in the series but didn’t find that affected my understanding of this one. The characterisation of both the detectives is well done, as we see the strain of the investigation telling on them. Both detectives come with a fair amount of personal baggage – Carrigan still recovering from the death of his wife, while Miller is dealing with the after-effects of the breakdown of her marriage. The reader can see an attraction forming between them which they themselves haven’t yet admitted to, which adds an interesting edge to their relationship.

There’s a fair amount of violence in the book with some particularly gruesome descriptions of torture at one point, and the overall tone of the book is pretty grim, unleavened by humour or hope. Carrigan in particular takes a bleak view of the world around him and the reader spends much of the book looking through his eyes. Not quite noir, but certainly a pretty dark grey.

The quality of the writing is high, especially in the descriptive passages, and, while the violence is a bit graphic at times for my taste, it is written very effectively. At times the dialogue comes across as unconvincing – the phraseology is too formal and well-turned to sound quite like the spoken word.

Stav Sherez
Stav Sherez

While I found the book very readable, the plot does veer between the predictable and the implausible and crosses both those lines at several points. As always, the Catholic church is portrayed as close to evil in the way it manipulates and controls people – a very overused theme. The Peruvian strand is interesting and clearly well researched, with some hard-hitting descriptions of the brutality that was used on both sides during the era of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. However, again the link to the current investigation stretches belief uncomfortably thin. Throw in some Eastern European drug barons and a bit of people-trafficking and it all becomes just a bit too much – sometimes less really is more. And unfortunately the end relies on one of the most overused twists of all time, no more credible in this book than in any of the countless others it has appeared in. In fact, had the book finished before the final twist, I would have found it much more satisfying and believable.

In the end, I feel the strengths of the book – the descriptive writing and the characterisation of the detectives – just about outweigh the weaknesses of the over-complexity and lack of credibility of the plot. Despite the problems, I would recommend this as an enjoyable read overall and I will be interested to see how the series develops in the future.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Faber & Faber.

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50 thoughts on “Eleven Days (Carrigan and Miller 2) by Stav Sherez

    • I probably will but I don’t know when…so many books in the world!

      😆 His hair is really quite special, isn’t it? And it seems to always be like that – this wasn’t just a bad hair day! (Reminds me of Twain…)

      • I’m sure you’ll read them all before the end. (I bet BUS is rather close herself. Just tell her to quite reading the dadblame HP series over and over again.)

        Maybe he gets it set like that. You know, that’s what ladies do. They go and get their hair done like that. Perhaps his is natural.

        • Did I mention Santa gave me the complete set of HP films? I’ve watched four so far – they’re brill! I love Ron!

          😆 Is that how Mr R’s ladies wear their hair? I rather like it – and it would take so little time in the mornings. Head upside down and squirt with hairspray – done!

          • Oh, that sounds so fun! And to think you didn’t invite me over to watch with you!

            It’s not far, actually. Or, you could have professorish hair. That takes not time to prepare in the morning as well. Or, you could be like Darby and wear a wig.

            • But…but…you said you have issues with HP. Which reminds me, you said you’d tell me what they were…

              Perhaps I do have Professorish hair – how would we know? I’ve got an idea! You could post a picture of the Professor and then I could tell you…

              DARBY DOES NOT WEAR A WIG!!!!

            • I’d still enjoy watching them with you, I think. You could explain all the particulars to me.

              Well, at one time, you said you had long, blonde hair. That’s definitely not professorish! (You could find the pics if you had the name, you know.)

              I know. Nor sandals. But I don’t believe it.

            • Pop over on Saturday evening then – I’ll be watching the next one then. It’s easy to find my house – just ask the postman to direct you to the house that gets all the book deliveries from Amazon…

              Fancy you remembering! I may have been exaggerating somewhat…for creative purposes only, you understand! (But I don’t… 😦 )

              You better read the book again then to check…

            • I’ll get the popcorn in!

              No I’m not! (No it’s not! Bet you’re more gorgeous than Rafa and I’ll never get to see…) (But not more gorgeous than Darby obviously, since that isn’t possible.)

              I think you must just have skipped those parts…

            • You can have the cake…I’ll have chocolate.

              Tell you what! You could post a picture of…ahem…Mic! He wouldn’t mind, I’m sure…

              Yes, but there’s a special edition for men that omits all the lovely descriptions of how gorgeous Darby is, in case they get too jealous…only women are allowed to read the full thing.

            • Yes, you can have all the chocolate. Schwarz gets the coconuts.

              😆 I could. And you’d deserve it, too! Maybe I will. If he lets me.

              You know, I knew something had to be missing!

            • Ooh! Is Schwarzy coming too? (And I assume…ahem…Mic will be there…) This is going to be great fun! Schwarzy could do an impersonation of Hedwig…

              I bet he’s just as gorgeous as the Professor!

              That’s why you couldn’t find the lake scene…or the scene where Darby is really heroic while wearing a skirt…

            • But…but…I bet he’ll be there in spirit. After all, the Professor and he are…ahem…inseparable…

              I hadn’t realised Professors were so keen on sandals and wigs. Will you be wearing them on Saturday?

            • Would be a fine joke on you one day if Mic Pencilpoint turned out to be a pseudonym for a person who is not the professor!

              I don’t wear such things. But I have been thinking about getting a disguise or something.

            • Yes, it would, wouldn’t it? But then he might wonder why the Professor uses his e-mail address… 😉

              You should! You could disguise yourself as a pirate! They wear trousers…and boots!

            • Uh-huh! Well, I won’t be e-mailing you if everyone can read it – I prefer to think my e-mails are only read by the recipient and the NSA… 😉

              So…no skirts, no tights and…no trousers??? Is the Professor a naturist???

            • I e-mail you six times every day! That evil Mic must be intercepting them! No wonder you never reply…

              No, no…Professor in Pants! Why…WHY…did you put that image in my head??

              (But aren’t trousers the same as pants then? What do you think of as trousers?)

            • Me? Would I do such a thing??

              Well…as you say, pants means something different over here…

              ( 😆 You colonials just have to be different, don’t you? Rebels!)

  1. I absolutely loved ‘A Dark Redemption’ and, although I enjoyed this second book in the series, it did not delight me quite as much as the first. I think you are right, the evil Catholic church plot line has become a bit tired by now (I felt the same with another book I read recently, Peter Kirby’s ‘Dead of Winter’). Having said that, I think the strong characterisation and the good writing do make it stand out. I also quite liked ‘The Black Monastery’, although the Greek background there was not always entirely convincing.

    • As always, I jumped in midway – I’ll need to backtrack and read ‘A Dark Redemption’. Though I had a few problems with this one, I thought the writing and particularly the characterisation make him an author well worth keeping an eye on. But yes, there are some themes that just get used so often they eventually lose any impact and become yet another cliche…

  2. FictionFan – I do like books that take a good like at society and the politics of institutions. This one does sound pretty grim, so if I do read it, it’ll have to be when I’m to a really bleak novel. And I agree with you; less can definitely be more, so that gave me pause too. Still, it sounds like it’s worth a read when I’m up to the darkness and violence.

    • The violence was a bit much for me in places, though in context with the plot, I suppose. Well written though and the characterisation of the two detectives was very good. Worth reading, but as you say, you’d need to be in the mood for something quite unrelentingly dark.

    • Thanks, Jose Ignacio, and for your recommendation of ‘A Dark Redemption’ – certainly I enjoyed this one enough to make me keen to read more of his work and the two main characters were interesting and well-drawn.

  3. It sounds by your description, “a fair amount of violence in the book…gruesome descriptions of torture…grim, unleavened by humour or hope…Not quite noir, but certainly a pretty dark grey.” that the author is taking his cue from the Scandinavian crime writers. As for the Catholic Church they deserve all the bad publicity be it within or without fiction.

  4. Not quite my thing I think, but I did so enjoy the author’s photo and had a really good unkind laugh. Having just returned from the hairdressers where my own mop had become nearly as unruly (though in not quite such a Brillo pad moment way) I am back to perfectly behaved tresses and can cruelly laugh at others, untouched by their very own Sweeney Todd. Or perhaps the author WAS, and therein lies the problem. hair electrified by terror

    • I’m actually thinking of going to the hairdresser and demanding a ‘Sherez’ – it would certainly make me stand out from the crowd, don’t you think? Especially if I could also grow the beard – I wonder if the doc would be willing to prescribe me steroids…

      • Suggest you collect up all the no doubt enormous amount of cat hair (if mine are anything to go by), and do some sterling work with the cat fur and some superglue (to stick the fur together) and you could fashion your own facial hair attachment. The other option, for the Sherez topknot effect is to spit on your finger and insert it into a lightbulb socket. You’ll probably also end up with the slightly startled and shocked look Mr S is sporting as well

        • Well, the cat hair thing could work…but I’d end up with a white beard! Which, apart from anything else, might start everyone sending me letters next December telling me what they want for Christmas…

  5. I tried the first in the series but really couldn’t get interested in the main characters. I might give this a go but only if I run short of other material. As you say, many of the themes seem to be the usual suspects and I would like to find something a little more original.

    • Yes, I get fed up when authors use the same themes as each other – it’s like a fad. I know every book can’t be blindingly original but it should be possible to vary the approach…

          • I WON’T be mature if Jilanne tends to your view but will pout and sulk and whinge unbecomingly – which tends to last a lot longer that the screaming and the throwing of things, as after all you are the one to suffer and have to pay for it if you break your own best china, which does rather tend to shorten the temper tantrums. When a toddler, it was always the parents who picked up the bill from the toddler tantrum, which meant it was worth really going for the screaming and smashing – particularly in glassware and china departments of stores. Really satisfying damage to be done there, and at age 2 you can’t be expected to have the money extracted from your pocket money he heh heh

            Sulking and whinging and pouting however inflicts no pecuniary damage on the sulker and just makes everyone else’s life hell. I’ll have months of leaving whimpering snide little notes on your and Jilanne’s blog before both your natural kindness gets exhausted and i get banned

            • Ah, but I was proposing to throw YOUR fine china! And the stamping and screaming is lots of fun…and completely free!

              Roger agrees with my review and not yours – in fact he’s think of revising his stars down! – nyah! nyah! nyah! 😛

            • Philadelphia stines, the pair of you! Funnily enough i had tea this afternoon with a good friend who was hesitating re reading Goldfinch – I think the test may be ‘how do you get on with Russian literature’ and she really doesn’t get on with Slavic gloom too well ( its a wonder we are good mates really) and having discovered she got hosed off with Dostoievsky I felt inclined to say she may not get on too well with Goldfinch

            • On a slightly more mature note – have you read ‘We Need New Names’ yet? Given our recent track record, I’m hesitant about recommending it, but I really think you might love it – and I spotted it’s back on NetGalley. Try the sample on Az first, though… 😉

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