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Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
Review by Liz de Jager
Orbit Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316044967
Date: 29 July 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

There is a lot to commend Joe Abercrombie’s newest novel but one of the chief commendations would be that it is a living breathing standalone novel with all loose ends tied up, a rare enough achievement in an industry so very fond of trilogies or continuing sagas.

It would be important to note that Best Served Cold does not suffer in depth of storytelling, plot, or gore because of its standalone status. It would however be our duty to warn you (in a good way) that this is not for the squeamish – the action is brutal, visceral and eye wateringly real. A further warning: reading Best Served Cold in public would draw some uncomfortable looks as you sit there winching and gasping and shaking your head as the variety of dastardly plans unfold.

Abercrombie relishes in his character creation, setting up Monza and her team of misfits with ease, giving each member a quirk or specialty, lifting them off the page as dull secondary characters to people whom you actual like and perceive as more than just the supporting cast.

You are never in doubt about Monza’s wants and needs – she has one goal in mind and that is to take revenge on the men who were the cause of her brother’s death and her own disfigurement. No matter the cost. It is her single-mindedness that creates some of the best conflict and tension in the story. The supporting characters are all well formed, interacting with one another, giving you the impression that they aren’t puppets, only alive whilst in that one scene, but that they are busy, behind the scenes, doing what they do best; killing, plotting, planning, poisoning and causing general havoc.

The author has a keen eye for humour and uses it to great advantage both in dialogue and some truly improbable scenes which work so well as it highlights the insane situation the characters find themselves in: i.e. going off to kill some of the most famous and well guarded people in the realm. They have to be nuts to do it!

Best Served Cold is one of those books you finish with a sense of both regret and satisfaction – it’s a solid offering and one that will have people talking about it for all the right reasons.

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