This was a book that took some digesting as it was the last of a trilogy which goes backward in time. First book, the actions of a child abductor/murd...moreThis was a book that took some digesting as it was the last of a trilogy which goes backward in time. First book, the actions of a child abductor/murderer (female). In the second book, twenty years before the first, the events surrounding said murderer as a teenage girl; in the third, this one, the seminal events shaping the murderer, at age 4. I think Andrew Taylor is a fantastic writer and thinker -- he writes "mere" mysteries but they're wonderfully psychologically complex, and at the same time he examines other issues, in this trilogy, for instance, the effect of church theology and mores on our ways of thinking and behaving.
I had left off reviewing this book because I needed to figure out whether he had satisfactorily answered certain questions from the first book and I couldn't quite figure out if he had (it doesn't help that you're reading about the events backwards). My big question was -- did he explain why this girl became a murderer? Was she a psychopath from the get-go? Was her confused and unhappy childhood to blame? What role did the church play, particularly in the influence of a long dead churchman, Francis Youlgreave, whose spirit hovers over the books and obsesses many characters who come into contact with him? Well, recently I watched a BBC production of all three books called "Fallen Angel" and particularly enjoyed the interviews surrounding the production -- interviews with author Andrew Taylor (a handsome fellow with white hair and an intriguing stutter) the actors, the director, the screenwriter, the on site psychologist. The question asked of all was, was Rosie/Angel doomed to be who she was? Because of spoilers I won't reveal how it came out (it was far from black and white, anyway) but it seemed to tidy things up in my mind.
So my conclusion is that Andrew Taylor did a fairly good job of painting/explaining such a person. Not a perfect job, but a pretty good one. I'm very glad I read this trilogy and I have to say that Taylor, in my opinion, is one of the best and most interesting crime writers in existence and that it is a joy to think that I have many other of his books to look forward to.(less)
I was blown away by this book, and this author. It's as if you crossed Margaret Drabble or Iris Murdoch with a commercial detective writer. The subjec...moreI was blown away by this book, and this author. It's as if you crossed Margaret Drabble or Iris Murdoch with a commercial detective writer. The subject is difficult (child kidnapping/abuse) but the author spins such a mezmerizing tale, and the characters are so real (including, believe it or not, one of the kidnappers) that I was in awe. Apparently, Taylor has written many other mysteries, including some historical ones, and I have already ordered several. BTW, this book is the first of a trilogy, and the author apparently goes further and further back in time with each book, unveiling the events that precipitate the ones in the first book. One of the two kidnappers in FOUR LAST THINGS is a woman, who though beautiful is completely manipulative and "evil" (that's not a term I use lightly) and apparently her story is told in the second book of the series. I have a feeling that, amazingly, Taylor will make her a fully rounded character, and reveal the circumstances that made her into the person capable of carrying out the horrendous acts. I take my hat off to him.(less)
I was disappointed by this book. It seemed very promising, the characters were intriguing, the premise was intriguing (in the 30s, a young girl who h...more I was disappointed by this book. It seemed very promising, the characters were intriguing, the premise was intriguing (in the 30s, a young girl who has contravened her family and societal mores is put into an insane asylum and kept there for 60 years until the asylum closes and the grandaughter discovers her existence for the first time) but the execution was too sketchy. The novelist had an interesting idea but didn't develop it. There just wasn't enough meat on the bones. Particularly towards the end I got the feeling that the author was rushing through to complete the novella and had lost interest.(less)
Sooooo overwritten.. Everything telegraphed a mile away... Male characters incredibly and unrealistically emotional and dramatic... Depressing that th...moreSooooo overwritten.. Everything telegraphed a mile away... Male characters incredibly and unrealistically emotional and dramatic... Depressing that this woman is such a bestselling author. I guess she found a niche and made it her own.(less)
When I picked this up this book on tape from the library I didn't realize it was non-fiction, so I listened to it wondering why the main character was...moreWhen I picked this up this book on tape from the library I didn't realize it was non-fiction, so I listened to it wondering why the main character was only an observer, why there wasn't any character growth, etc... Now I understand that it's actually the observations of an Esquire writer living in Savannah, I see it in a different light. It was entertaining enough, though I probably wouldn't have bothered with it, not being a huge fan of the colorful characters of the gothic south. Anyway, now it's done, I'm not unhappy I can check the box, since I'd always been curious about the famous book with the great title; and since the library sent me an abridged version, I feel I got a good flavor of it without having had to crawl through every single one of the cobwebs. (less)