Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Blood Wedding - Pierre LeMaitre

I remember seeing a film way back in the 70s by Claude Chabrol called Blood Wedding, the title was  later changed to Wedding of the Blood possibly because of the play by Federico Garcia Lorca? Naturally the title of this book, received from Real Readers, brought to mind that film. It is also a thriller but there the similarity ends.

As I began to read the opening sentences my heart sank a little as it was clearly a translation and no matter how skilful the translator is I feel that linguistically something is lost. But a few sentences more and I’d forgotten all about translations!

This book really should be accompanied by a strong warning. Unplug the phone, cancel all appointments and arrangements for you will not want to put this book down. It is a very dark, uncompromising tale which will not leave you uplifted in any way. But it is extraordinarily compelling. 

Like a coiled spring the tension unwinds relentlessly and tantalisingly. Psychological thrillers are very much in vogue but I will stick my neck out and say that this is one of the better ones. There are shades of Before I Sleep brought to mind but there is little time to focus on anything other than the writing so fast is the pace of this story.

It’s a multi styled narrative from the perspectives of the two main characters written as a direct third person narrative and also a first person diary narrative. Both work and serve to show the distinction between the two characters. 

The plot is watertight, flawless almost, and is a powerful study of revenge, obsession, control and paranoia.Arranged into three parts which parallel the three phases of the story, it’s a sound structure that works well. The characters are delicious in their deviousness!! And we, the reader, are manipulated into this dichotomous power struggle.

Move over Nordic crime! Here comes Gallic crime! And I for one cannot wait for more. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Lake House - Kate Morton

I’ve read all of Kate Morton’s books. I love the way they take me into a world and lifestyle I’ve never known with a satisfying juxtaposition of the tranquility of surroundings and environment and the unsettling. sometimes, violent events.

And I did enjoy this recent novel. But a disturbing thought has wormed its way into my consciousness with this book. It was as if I had already read it, I knew what was going to happen despite the  numerous red herrings trying to lead me down the wrong path. And I wondered why. Has Ms. Morton lot her touch? But I don’t think it is that at all. I think it may be that in a sense familiarity breeds contempt. 

It strikes me that, because I enjoy these books so much and the writer’s style resonates with me so well that I am in tune with the way Kate Morton’s fiction mind works that there’s nothing new for me anymore. I think the way she thinks!! If this was the first Morton book I had read I would probably be ecstatically extolling its many virtues. 

So now I’m trying to think whether the same experience has happened to any of my other favourite writers.  I’m thinking first of Donna Tartt because I just loved The Goldfinch, I was less enthusiastic about The Secret History and The Little Friend but was it because I had adjusted to Tartt’s style.
Don’t get me wrong I thought all the books were fabulous and I can’t wait for either her or Kate Morton to write another and I’ll read them but this experience has raised questions about a response to a favourite writer.

But, back to The Lake House. As always it has a carefully and well structured plot with the familiar themes of love and passion, secret and mysteries. The characters are well drawn, familiar, as they possess all the flaws and weaknesses we see in ourselves as well as the strengths that carry us through the challenges the world throws at us. Compassion is a key theme in this book too. I enjoyed the parallels between the two stories, the contemporary one and the historical one. I think it was overlong and that might be off-putting to some readers.

But I will await Kate Morton’s next book with interest and see how I feel about that!! Watch this space. :-D

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Shadowed - Karen E Olson

You know what? I don't care whether this is a well written book or not. I'm not bothered if the plot structure is sound. I couldn't give two hoots if the characters are engaging and not one dimensional. None of that matters because I just really enjoyed this book and didn’t want to put it down. A story such as this strips me of my critical faculties because it just picked me up and carried me along gently dropping me when it was done.
Granted I never go online any more without metaphorically looking over my shoulder but maybe that's not a bad thing?

And the main character, a computer hacker on the run big time, is compelling yet human and very convincing. This is apparently the second in the series featuring her. Not sure what to call her as identity is a key theme in the book. The suspense is sustained pretty much throughout, a techno thriller, do we have a new genre hatching?

Loads of action, physical and cerebral. You might figure things out, you might not. I did, and then again I didn't!  It's that sort of book. The final denouement is possibly a little bit cheesy but it works here. And it’s a peculiar paradox because you could see it coming but then again you couldn't. I'm not making much sense am I? Go and read the book then, you might see what I mean.

If this book has something to say it is that the cyber world can be a scary place but I think we all knew that anyway didn't we? And it raises interesting considerations about how possible it is to try and remain incognito indefinitely in this big brother computer ‘smart’ world?

I received an e book copy of this to review from Breakaway Reviewers

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Without Trace - Simon Booker

This leaves a very big trace!!

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the location. I used to visit Dungeness and Romney Marsh when I was a kid and I loved how bleak and desolate it appeared to be. The idea of living on the beach was so appealing that my parents had to drag me away sometimes. In later years I also had the amazing good fortune to visit a Martello Tower which is described here too. And the entire mood of those visits was captured here from someone, I suspect, who loves the place too. So from the start there was much to endear me to this novel.

But I’m not here to reminisce about my childhood haunts!  For me this book was a slow burner, building up very nicely until I just couldn’t put it down. There are so many red herrings you could open a stall at Billingsgate and I just never second guessed any of them!! Now that makes me mad!! Why? ‘Cause I’m a smartass who likes to think they know their way around a crime novel! BUT it also makes me jump for joy because it means the writer has a imaginative brain and isn’t afraid to use it!!
To a certain extent I would say some of this story is contrived but intelligently contrived so it didn’t grate. It was a fine line between four and five stars and I deferred to four because of this and the slowish start. The tension was palpable. It was contemporary, well plotted and the main character, Morgan Vine was real, flawed and vulnerable as we all are, but tenacious too and all the more a heroine to me, because of it. The book gives us two stories, Morgan the adult now and Morgan as an adolescent. The two work well in tandem and fuel the psychological aspects of the tale and inform our perceptions and understanding of her current situation. All the ends are tied up and the two tales dovetail into a satisfactory conclusion. 

This is a debut novel but a little research showed me that this author is an experienced writer and screen writer and this is evident in this first psychological thriller. I hope he decides that Ms. Vine is worth at least another outing although I’m not sure where he could take her. But I’ll throw it down as a challenge, Mr. Booker. Please?

I received this as an ebook from Breakaway Reviewers to read and review hence the reference to a star rating.