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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: exlibrary hardcover book with mylar jacket, usual library marks;light reader wear
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Close Hardcover – July 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cole, one of the U.K.'s top-selling authors, brings her gritty brand of crime fiction across the Atlantic, and veteran British actress Nicola Duffett takes on the considerable task of juggling the large cast of characters. Duffett especially shines as Lily, the matriarch of the Brody clan, a crime family whose capacity for violence on the streets seems tame compared to their sordid domestic dramas. Duffett also manages to nail the characterizations of sons Patrick and Lance and their complicated brotherly relationship, yet the other siblings and various underworld associates blur in the dizzying pace. The abridgment makes the listening experience grow increasingly choppy as the story progresses. Transitions between decades lack discernable cues, and the span of time is more episodic than epic. The raw creative talent in both the writing and narration remain evident, and dedicated fans of the gangster-on-the-couch concept of The Sopranos will appreciate the motif. But the finished product feels like a 10-CD title forcefully squeezed into five disks. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, May 5).(July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Best-sellers don’t always translate from one country to another, even when they’re written in the same language. Cole has 14 chart-topping novels in the UK and yet remains largely unknown in the U.S. Her publisher hopes to change that by making Close (first published in 2006) her American debut. A committed marketing effort may well generate interest in Cole, but the question remains whether Americans will stick with her book. It seems unlikely. This sprawling family saga of London gangsters is sometimes violent yet curiously bloodless, marred by repetition and cliché, and—although Cole clearly knows her turf—devoid of the specifics that might make it come alive for readers unfamiliar with the milieu. Worse, she tends to cut away from scenes just as they get interesting, instead lingering endlessly on her characters’ thoughts. This impressionistic approach leaves readers looking for solid anchors of plot, time line, and telling detail. It’s a brick-size book that could have been cut by half without serious loss, and though things improve somewhat after the 100-page mark, the question is whether readers not on assignment will get that far. Bad books sometimes do become best-sellers, usually because they tap into our psyche in a particular way; this one obviously has strong appeal at home but, despite the strength of the pound versus the dollar, doesn’t seem likely to travel. --Keir Graff

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446179965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446179966
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,172,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. ODonnell on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the worst book I have read in as long as I can remember, and I usually read 2 or 3 books a week. This is the first time I have ever been motivated to write a negative review of a book, but maybe I can save someone from spending $20 and 8 hours of their life struggling through this miserable story.

There is not a single character in the story that the average reader can relate to. In most novels the reader can figuratively stand in the shoes of a character and ride the emotional roller-coaster with them, hoping things turn out for the best. I know it is the criminal underworld, but the characters in this book are such thoroughly despicable human beings that I never felt like I could empathize with them, and not one of them inspires the hope that things might work out well for them.

The story itself is bland and predictable. There are no twists, no turns, no development in the plot that the reader won't see coming a mile away. In fact, there's not really a plot, exactly; it's more like you get a "day-in-the-life" kind of snapshot of the life of this crime family, only it spans 40 years or so, and gives the sense that the next 40 will continue in the same predictable manner.

The writing style is droll and actually interferes with the telling of the story. The writer is excruciatingly long-winded - the book could've been improved by editing it from 500 to 250 pages. The author will clearly descrbe something in a few sentences, then spend another page describing it some more, often repeating what was said before but in slightly different words, then she'll close the topic by saying, "in short," and instead of following with a brief recap, will go on for another couple of paragraphs saying the same things again. I found myself doing a lot of scanning to get past it.

In short, it was awful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reader at large on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Did you ever start reading something and wonder at the end why you stayed with it?
This is how I felt about Close. The author is very long-winded with needless repetitive scenes and explanations. Surely, someone in this family must have a happy moment. The herone is one big baby factory and it is only in the last 10-15 pages that the story ties up loose ends. I just don't think Ms. Cole with be a best-selling cross-over to USA British author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Baker on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Martina Cole's books are all based in the London underworld, they are gritty, often violent and surprising. This isn't her best, the earlier books are excellent,but I certainly enjoyed it and it kept me up late finishing it. The women are strong,take no nonsense types and are very often the heroines supporting their bad men. If you enjoy English crime thrillers then I highly recommend any of Ms Cole's books.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on July 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This made me think of a 3-page creative writing assignment from a student who had no interest in the class and who would much rather be doing something else--and then expanded to 500 pages. Some of the reviews--the editorial review on Amazon, for example, liken this to the Sopranos in terms of family life, gangsters, etc. Well, you can also compare Erich Segal's abysmal Love Story to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet if you want. The Sopranos had great depth of character, unpredictability, and creativity, none of which are present in Cole's work. The writing is flat, the characters lifeless, and the dialogue usually sounds as if a 15-year-old was writing it and trying to sound mature. The whole novel has a very forced, very labored feel to it.

I didn't find any of the characters appealing or likable, including the central figure Lily. The language and the violence seem artificial--almost like carefully planted pansies in a flower box. This is certainly in contrast to the Sopranos--the use of language and violence seemed natural and appropriate. I kept saying to myself "does anyone really speak this way?". There are also a lot of people to keep track of, and I got the impression that this was not a carefully planned-out work. The book finishes at page 500--not 499, not 501. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not--the publisher may have asked for a 500-page novel, so that's what they got.

Things get a bit more revealing, perhaps, if you visit the Amazon UK site (which I should have done before buying the book at B&N). The hardbound version in the UK was October, 2006, and the paperback May 2007. The Amazon UK reviewers tend to be more gracious, more polite, more generous than their US counterparts (such as myself): 42 reviews (as of July 6, 2008) average only 2 stars. Some of Cole's books have much higher reviewer ratings and may well be much better than this--but if I ever read another one of her books I'll get it from my public library.
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By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on October 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This over-long novel about a very unusual family and the London underworld is a good candidate for some serious editing. That doesn't mean it isn't an interesting read--it is. But it is wordy and repetitious and at times wearies the reader. Despite it all, the plot is interesting and the characters well-drawn.

It is the story of the Brodie family and how they took over the London rackets not once but twice. Originally Pat Brodie Sr. muscled his way to the top of the heap only to be murdered. Then Pat Jr. repeated his father's `achievement.' It also is the tale of the family, the stalwart woman Pat frere married, the children she bore and her role in the family's survival following the death of her husband.

Probably the most interesting parts of the book are the intrigues, plotting and double-crosses as various gangsters jockey for position. Although reservations have already been voiced about the writing, for the most part it is excellent and graphic, with dialogue in keeping with the cast of characters and the Soho setting, and the book is recommended.
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