Despite the fact that I’ve listed Neal Stephenson as one of my favourite authors, I’m not a fan of everything he’s written. (The accomplishments of Zodiac, The Diamond Age and The Baroque Cycle continue to elude me.) But when I like his writing, it borders on idolatry, and Cobweb* was as wonderful the second time around as the first, fifteen years ago. The characters are fresh and memorable, the Iowa and Washington DC settings are vivid. But what I really liked was the way you – the reader – discover what’s going on at the same time as the main character in Iowa, a policeman running for election as Sheriff and just going about his daily rounds. And as he begins to notice things so you, the reader, notice them too. Without being boring for a second, the plot creeps up on you, wraps itself around you and pulls you along with it – until you’re saying to yourself, ‘Just one more chapter. Just one more.’
* He actually wrote this one with his uncle. Which might explain why it’s not the doorstop most of his novels are. A restraining hand on the tiller? Just a theory.