Well, I won’t lie. I read Mandasue Heller’s first book years ago and I was underwhelmed. Unkindly I thought she should just stick to singing. However in that fourteen odd years she has developed and grown as a writer which brings us to her latest work, Run.
In common with many crime and thriller novels the book begins with a tantalising prologue suggestive of a dark, sinister ride ahead. Then the main body of the novel begins. It seems to be no more than a fairly average chick lit tale. The dialogue and events are relatively prosaic - ordinary people doing and saying ordinary things, with some exceptions. So much so that I wondered if I had dreamed the prologue, a mis print from another book maybe?
But gradually an undercurrent that all is not quite as it seems begins to slither insidiously into the narrative creating the unease that some of the characters themselves must have been feeling. Then it is as if the floodgates of thrillerdom are unleashed! The pace picks up and the story unravels as anything but prosaic. Hints and dangling carrot suggestions that had been carefully thrust at the reader appear to be unfounded until the crescendo reaches its peak. Then when you think you can exhale with relief that an equilibrium has been achieved for the time being the epilogue grabs you roughly by the collar and demands you think again. I did not see the final denouement coming. And I love it when that happens!!
The characters are a mixed bunch, functional for the purpose of the fiction in many cases. But perhaps some stereotypes we can identify from the real world and feel some sorrow for their unhappy, damaged lives. Others we can loathe for their devious, self aggrandising, thug behaviour. Through them all there’s a vague suggestion of social comment maybe, it’s there for the reader to digest if they want to.
At the risk of sounding like Miranda’s Mum (from the TV show) this is what I like to call ‘genre fusion’ .
On the one hand you have a credible thriller and on the other you have a chick lit tale. Personally I am not a great fan of chick lit but I do love the crime/thriller genre so I’m pretty happy. And I imagine that a chick lit lover who isn’t that keen on crime/thrillers might also be happy.
And so I can safely say I’m glad Mandasue Heller didn’t just stick to singing!
Thanks, Nudge, for a copy of this.