Friday, July 29, 2011

The Cambridge List: An ever-so-English Greek tragedy by Robert Clear

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   The Cambridge List is an action-packed, ever-so-English dark comedy about gods, sex and death amidst the ivory towers of Cambridge University.

James Connor thinks that murdering his former professors in cold blood is rather a bad idea. Unfortunately his head has been commandeered by a bloodthirsty family of Greek gods, so he doesn’t have a say in the matter. With Hera and Aphrodite at each other’s throats and Dionysos failing to keep order, James’s brain has become a cosmic conflict zone, and he’s worried they’ll leave it in ruins. There’s only one way out: he has to go from socially inept young man to slick sociopath fast. If only he wasn’t so squeamish about mass slaughter.

Follow the world’s least menacing serial killer on his awkwardly murderous journey through the little town of Cambridge, where ancient rituals, scheming academics and divine politics collide. And where murder has consequences unforeseen even by the gods themselves…

And here's what I thought: This is one of those books that will appeal to you if you have knowledge of some of the Greek gods and a fairly dark sense of humor.  I have both, so I really enjoyed this book.   I liked how creative the plot was, where James' brain is taken over by Greek gods, who bicker back and forth and give him instructions for doing away with people.   I will admit that at some points, things became a bit grotesque, especially in the beginning where James is dealing with one of his professors (she is grossly overweight, and generally gross person, as well).  It made the story go from a bit funny to a bit funny-horrifying --- but it didn't stop me from continuing to read.  I'm a fan of the defunct show Dead Like Me, so there were parts of this that I found really funny. 

What I found really fun about the story, other than the inspired ways that people were killed off, was the Greek gods, themselves.  Each has a distinct voice and personality -- and they're so well written that they are absolutely clear as characters.  The bickering between them was at times so snarky and funny that I found myself snickering out loud (which is fine when you're reading by yourself and a bit hard to explain if you're in public).    Here's an example from page 38: "Your plan was idiotic," retorted Hera.  "You can't kill someone by having them eaten by a pack of rabid guinea pigs."   Thanks very much to the author for putting that image in my head.  Actually, true thanks to the author for contacting me to review this book --- I might not have discovered it otherwise, and I thought it was a great read!

First sentences: 
A cold wind whipped across the Fens and through the little city of Cambridge.  It has travelled this vacant land since long before the spires of churches and the turrets of towers pierced the vast East Anglian sky.  It will continue to journey here long after grass has covered the untilled earth and the square-cut stones are buried deep beneath.

Thoughts on the cover: I read this as an e-book, so the cover art I saw was on GoodReads.  I probably would have chosen something else, like a photo of a classical Greek statue, to make the cover a bit more dynamic.


Bittner said...

This book sounds awesome! I don't know a lot about Greek Myths but I love dark humor. I'll definitely be adding it to my goodreads to be read shelf!

Great review!

Unknown said...

First let me say, if I have already...blame it on senility...I am soooo in love with your header I think I might have to make a picture and frame it!
Second...I stole your badge....I'm already a follower so I can't do that again ... LOL!!
And this book sound soooo cool...I'm going to have to find it now!

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

Ooh, I've never heard of this one and based on your review it sounds fantastic! Adding to my TBR list :)

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