Not to everyone's taste, I know (talk about breaking the "show, don't tell" rule!), but I loved this to bits. I loved the characters, especially DinahNot to everyone's taste, I know (talk about breaking the "show, don't tell" rule!), but I loved this to bits. I loved the characters, especially Dinah and Moira. I loved the ironic feminism. I loved the epic, probably-doomed attempt to save humanity. I loved the "5,000 years later". I love Stephenson's storytelling, and yes, there was too much science, but I didn't mind at all; I read every tiny detail when I felt like it and skipped the odd paragraph when I was too impatient and desperate to know what was happening to the characters.
Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Murder Squad into nice, quiet (or at least, not heartwrecking) Domestic Violence when she gets a call from her deCassie Maddox has transferred out of Murder Squad into nice, quiet (or at least, not heartwrecking) Domestic Violence when she gets a call from her detective boyfriend, who's stumbled on a dead girl so like Cassie he thought it was her. Even more confusing, the girl appears to be using a fake identity Cassie created, Lexie Maddison, when she went undercover a few years previously.
Still scarred from the emotional fallout of the events of In the Woods, Cassie agrees to insinuate herself into the dead girl's life - which means moving into the rambling old country house Lexie shared with her four closest friends - in order to find the killer.
So far, so preposterous. For me, accepting that the likeness is that close was a huge leap of faith, but I was drawn in by Tana French's beautiful writing, and willing to suspend disbelief. And once Cassie gets into the house, that was it. I was completely drawn into this close-knit circle of misfit intellectuals - shades, obviously, of Donna Tartt's The Secret History - completely caught up in whether Cassie could convince them she was Lexie.
French expertly manipulates the dynamics between Lexie's friends; I can see them perfectly, this group that everyone wants to be part of and then resents when they're rebuffed. Their wittiness, their glamour (which I believed in utterly, even though it's obvious looking at the bare fcts that they weren't glamorous at all), their love for each other. I wanted to be part of it; I fell a little in love with Abby, Justin, Rafe, Daniel, even Lexie, and that, for me, is why Tana French's novel is such a success. I didn't want to put it down; I wanted to stay there, cocooned in this group of amazing friends, even though it's made obvious in the opening pages that things are going to go horribly wrong.
And as events unravel, there is Cassie, hurting and desperate and unsure on behalf of the reader. I'm not usually a fan of first person narrators, and only read them reluctantly and if I've been hooked in some other way by the book. In this case, as with In The Woods, I can't imagine the story being told any other way.
Four stars, not five, only because I felt the reader manipulation got a bit too heavy-handed towards the end. But I'm so glad I finally got around to reading Tana French. I'll try to leave it at least a few days before picking up her third novel, but we'll see. :-)...more
Shelley is making a new start, away from her old life where everyone knew the terrible thing that happened to her family. New school, new friends; sheShelley is making a new start, away from her old life where everyone knew the terrible thing that happened to her family. New school, new friends; she's drawing a line between then and now.
But life doesn't work like that. Nobody - not her old friends or her new ones - seems happy about her developing friendship with one of the local footy stars. Between hormones and memories, she can barely look at her best friend Josh any more, and anyway, he seems more interested in Shelley's new worst enemy. Her new friend Tara is an enigma to say the least, and her father...well, they can't speak for the elephant in the room.
Told in a beautiful, elegiac voice that reminded me of both Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Pip Harry's I'll Tell You Mine, The Whole of My World gradually strips off the layers surrounding Shelley's secret until she realises she can't hide any more. She has to face the past in order to move on.
This is a moving coming-of-age novel, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Nicole Hayes comes up with next....more
I've been gobbling up Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books over the past couple of weeks, and have been impressed with the growing complexity and thI've been gobbling up Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books over the past couple of weeks, and have been impressed with the growing complexity and the way each book builds on the previous one.
If this is your introduction to the series, please put it away and read one of the others first. Ideally start with Still Life, but at the very least, read The Brutal Telling, the plot of which plays a pivotal role in Bury Your Dead.
At the beginning of Bury Your Dead, Gamache has taken refuge with his old mentor in Quebec City. He is recovering from a terrible experience, the horror of which is revealed gradually as the book unfolds.
Although he's trying to escape his role as Chief Inspector of Homicide, Gamache is inevitably drawn into another mystery, this time involving the English-speaking community and a plot possibly stretching back to the very founding of the city. At the same time, Penny does something I've never seen in another crime novel and has Gamache's sidekick, Jean Guy Beauvoir, reinvestigate the mystery from the previous book.
The mysteries unfold simultaneously, all quite slight as individual plots, but Penny draws out the similarities and parallels with apparent ease. The book is slow to start, and at first I thought that finally I might be reading a Gamache novel that I didn't like. That changed about a third of the way in, when the various voices and plotlines came together, weaving a kind of symphony of sadness, acknowledgement, horror and grieving.
The ending is, appropriately, left to Gamache and the culmination of the recent tragedy, and I am not ashamed to say that I put the book down and burst into tears.
In another author's hands, the fiery, gorgeous Beauvoir would be the main character and Gamache would be a humorous sidekick. Or else the novels would be relegated to the cosy crime genre, where nothing truly bad ever happens (or if it does it is glossed over). But Louise Penny's characters, particularly Gamache, know how terrible the world can be; the magic is that Gamache takes the hits, but never lets them destroy his humanity. That is what makes these books so engrossing and moving, at least for me....more
Beams Falling is PM Newton's follow-up to the excellent The Old School, in which Detective Nhu (Ned) Kelly took on corruption within the police forceBeams Falling is PM Newton's follow-up to the excellent The Old School, in which Detective Nhu (Ned) Kelly took on corruption within the police force and came perilously close to the truth about her parents' murders into the bargain.
The sequel starts with Ned fighting to return to work - and to find out who was responsible for her parents' deaths. When she's shunted out to Cabramatta as a token Asian officer just before the apparently senseless murder of a young boy, she again becomes embroiled in corruption and the complications of duty, with problems this time coming (mostly) from the other side of the police tape.
The book paints a vivid picture of Cabramatta in the early nineties, almost a failed state in which many members of the police force seem comfortable letting the various gangs and dealers duke it out among themselves, regardless of how many innocents get in the way. Newton's descriptions of some of the awful situations characters have faced, since before they even arrived in Australia, offer a counterpoint to this view - not to mention a reminder of the plight of refugees attempting to gain access to Australia today.
There's also what feels like a very realistic portrayal of PTSD and the ways those affected deal with it. In fact, the entire book could be viewed as an examination of how characters from all walks of life deal with the bad hands they are given: some of them retain their integrity, such as it is; most don't, and who are we to judge them for this?
I loved The Old School, and recommend reading it first if you haven't already, but to me Beams Falling is a grittier, more mature book, deeper on several levels than its predecessor. Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to more from Nhu and PM Newton....more
I didn't love all these stories, but I really liked most of them, and fell head over heels for several. Ray Bradbury's combination of love, loss, yearI didn't love all these stories, but I really liked most of them, and fell head over heels for several. Ray Bradbury's combination of love, loss, yearning and compassion speaks to my heart....more
Pressia is a Wretch, left outside the Dome when the detonations hit, and any day now she's going to be taken by the OSR, a kind of guerilla army thatPressia is a Wretch, left outside the Dome when the detonations hit, and any day now she's going to be taken by the OSR, a kind of guerilla army that terrorises those who live in the wreckage of the new world. Partridge is a Pure, pampered, privileged and thoughtless, safe in the Dome...until the day he discovers that his mother, a martyr whom he believed had died in the detonations, may still be alive out there.
I liked this a lot, particluarly the hushed, haunting atmosphere Baggott creates, and her multi-faceted characters. The book starts slowly, but I was interested enough in the world and the characters to trust the writing, and was well rewarded for my patience. By the last quarter, I couldn't read fast enough, and only wanted more when the book ended.
It is so good to find an excellent YA dystopia that doesn't rely on first person narration to draw the reader in. That said, I was a little concerned when I realised how many characters' heads we seemed to be jumping through (although mainly the narrative confines itself to three characters) - but I shouldn't have been. Baggott uses the technique to great effect, particularly towards the end. I'm looking forward to reading the next book....more
Joe Spork is a clockwork-repairer, taking after his boring grandfather rather than his crime-boss dad and he's very happy with that, thank you.
Edie BaJoe Spork is a clockwork-repairer, taking after his boring grandfather rather than his crime-boss dad and he's very happy with that, thank you.
Edie Banister is an ex-spy with a romantic past, a sworn enemy, and a ticking bomb that could destroy the world - if her arch-enemy doesn't get to it first. When she embroils Joe in her plot, all hell breaks loose.
This is a hugely entertaining, riveting, playful masterpiece. I loved The Gone-Away World, but if I had a complaint about it, it was that I felt it lacked a bit of heart. Angelmaker is all heart, and I completely adored it. Like many heroes, Joe Spork suffers somewhat from blank canvas syndrome, but he well and truly fills out his character by the end of the novel. Edie is a wonderful character, furious at the limitations imposed on her by old age, but still brilliantly resourceful. There's a master villain, a female sidekick who absolutely refuses to be a sidekick, and a character who feels very much like a tribute to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy's Connie Sachs.
The book has over five hundred pages, and I'd happily have kept going for another five hundred. Harkaway has a poet's relish for language, and for me, he has well and truly fulfilled the promise of The Gone-Away World. I can't wait to see what he writes next....more