I feel that this may be the best Martin beck novel. It has two crimes running through it, a heist and a locked room murder mystery. Both are intriguinI feel that this may be the best Martin beck novel. It has two crimes running through it, a heist and a locked room murder mystery. Both are intriguing but it is the locked room, and how the mystery is revealed, which is the core of the book. As usual the characters are well drawn and engaging and the description of Swedish life, at the time, intriguing....more
This is a standard serial killer novel. Nothing really sets it apart but it is reasonable holiday read. The ending is weak but it is fairly fast pacedThis is a standard serial killer novel. Nothing really sets it apart but it is reasonable holiday read. The ending is weak but it is fairly fast paced up until then....more
A good police procedural thriller with the twist of the backdrop of the troubles in Belfast in the 80's. Well written, pacy, with good character develA good police procedural thriller with the twist of the backdrop of the troubles in Belfast in the 80's. Well written, pacy, with good character development. Looses its way a little at the end as it tries to pack too much in, but overall an enjoyable book...more
Thirteen-year old Lizzie Hood and her next door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable. They are best friends who swap bathing suits
Thirteen-year old Lizzie Hood and her next door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable. They are best friends who swap bathing suits and field-hockey sticks, and share everything that's happened to them. Together they live in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister Dusty, who provides a window on the exotic, intoxicating possibilities of their own teenage horizons. To Lizzie, the Verver household, presided over by Evie's big-hearted father, is the world's most perfect place.
And then, one afternoon, Evie disappears. The only clue: a maroon sedan Lizzie spotted driving past the two girls earlier in the day. As a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the Midwestern suburban community, everyone looks to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?
Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth, prowling nights through backyards, peering through windows, pushing herself to the dark center of Evie's world. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power at the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secrets and lies that make her wonder if she knew her best friend at all.
Author One-on-One: Megan Abbott and Sara Gran
In this Amazon.com exclusive, author Megan Abbott is interviewed by Sara Gran (Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead) about The End of Everything.
Sara Gran:The End of Everything shares common themes with your previous four novels, yet stands out as a departure—it takes place in the 1980s (your other novels took place before you were born), the narrator is 13 years old (your previous narrators were adult women), and it takes place in the suburbs (as opposed to the urban settings of your other books). How is The End of Everything the same? How is it different?
Megan Abbott: I wanted to try something new, to shake things up for myself. To move out of the world of nightclubs, racetracks, movie studios and, most of all, to move out of the past, worlds I never knew. When I first started writing, though, everything felt foreign, puzzling. I didn’t know if I could adapt my style to this new setting and time period. My past books were so influenced by Golden Age Hollywood movies and that heightened style. And I’d done this foolish thing, giving myself a 13-year-old girl as my narrator. But as I wrote, I just had this revelation that, for most 13-year-old girls, life is dramatic and the stakes feel dramatically high. It’s all desire and fear and longing and disillusion. Everything feels big and terrifying and thrilling. And my past books, I see now, are so much about women feeling trapped and seeking a way out, at any cost. And feeling trapped, and wanting out, is very much the state of being 13.
Gran: What were the body of influences you drew from in creating this character and this story? Lizzie, your narrator, is a bit of a girl detective, uncovering secrets about her placid suburban town--were you a Nancy Drew fan?
Abbott: I never intended Lizzie to be such an active agent in the book. My original thought was she would be a somewhat passive observer. But, as she grew in my head, she began to want things, and then she sort of took over. While I don’t think I precisely had Nancy Drew in my head, I was a voracious reader of mysteries as a kid and I do think there’s a natural affinity between writers and detectives (and I don’t have to tell you this, in light of all the magic you cast with your detective in Claire De Witt and the City of the Dead). To me, that link is a desire to look in places you’re not supposed to. To be a voyeur. And, as with many voyeurs (and detectives), you can only peek so long before you want "in." Which is the life of most 13 year olds anyway, isn’t it? I see the adult world. I want "in."
Gran: How did you get back into the mind of a 13-year-old girl? Or is there a part of we adult women that has never left?
Abbott: I’m alarmed at how natural it felt. I’ve heard it said that we’re all arrested at a certain age, and for me it’s 13, which is probably why I landed at that age. But I think it’s an especially powerful age for girls. It’s the moment you peer with widest eyes into womanhood, or are flung there. It’s an age of constant push-pull, wanting to leap forward and yet often retreating in the face of real adulthood, and the price of it. I think many women look back on that age as the moment of great anticipation and often painful revelation.
Gran: To what degree, especially compared to you other books, is The End of Everything autobiographical?
Abbott: In terms of time and place, it’s definitely lifted straight from my growing-up years in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the early 1980s. Before, I always wrote as an escape, a fantasy exercise to enter these shimmering, foreign worlds. My own world felt pretty mundane, not worthy of such an adventure. But somehow, maybe it was the flush of nostalgia, I was able to crawl my way back into some long-lost feeling from my childhood. That feeling of possibility, mystery, risk that suffuses all your surroundings. Also, I’m now at the age where the 1980s seems like a lost era. And I’m a sentimentalist, of course!
Gran: Tell me a little about the suburbs, especially the suburbs where this book takes place, a fictionalized version of Grosse Pointe? What is it that we love and hate so much about these liminal spaces (not urban, not rural)? Why do some of us have something like a fear of the suburbs (as I do!)?
Abbott: I love that you, a Brooklyn girl, could feel that way! I do think of suburbs as “halfway” places because it suggests a sense of complication and mystery when I think the rap they get is that they are places of conformity or hypocrisy or tedium. I think they occupy this strangely contradictory place between utter hidden-ness and this sense of vivid exposure. In the Midwest, at least, it’s impolite to poke your nose in your neighbor’s business. At the same time, there’s something unbearably intimate about them. Because of the way many suburbs of my era were designed, as kids you would end up running through each other’s backyards, hiding out in the basement, hearing all the sounds in the upper floors, uncovering secrets. So there’s this tug of war, the instinct to protect oneself, to hide one’s desires or sorrows and the simultaneous desire to reach out, to pry, to touch each other, to connect. That tension is palpable, fascinating.
All that easy mockery of the suburbs drives me crazy. To me, they’re places of yearning, which is maybe true of all places.
Gran: Throughout the course of The End of Everything, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret about her placid town. What role do secrets, in general, play in our lives? Are they gifts, treasures, curses, or burdens?
Abbott: I think that being 13 is in many ways like an endless process of revelation, and disillusionment. You carry all these ideas of the world, and yourself, and in many ways they all get punctured, one by one. But then somehow you manage to build new ones up. And you start to carry your own secrets, which I guess Lizzie will too.
Gran: You’re known for, among other things, pushing the boundaries of genre definitions. While your previous books fit well into the “crime” genre, they also contain elements of literary fiction, historical fiction, and mystery. Where does this new book fit in, both in terms of genre in general and in terms of your own list? Is genre relevant to you as a writer—does thinking about these categories help or hinder you as you work?
Abbott: My impulse is to say I don’t believe in genre distinctions. But I guess I’ve come to think that all novels are mysteries. Reading them, you are always that detective/voyeur, peering in, sifting through its secrets, sometimes wanting to enter the story itself, to sink yourself into those worlds. I admit, I love that John Gardner quote: all stories have one of two plots: someone goes on a journey; or a stranger comes to town. Sometimes both. Usually both.
Gran: I find that for me, every book I write leads naturally into the next on—every book is almost like a bus or a train that takes me right where you need to go to catch the next bus—i.e., to write the next book. So what have you been working on since The End of Everything? How did The End of Everything lead you to the next book?
Abbott: I love that bus analogy. That’s exactly how it feels, like the seed of the new book is sown at the very end of the last one, though I never know how it got there. My next book, Dare Me, comes directly from writing about girls’ field hockey in The End of Everything. It’s set in the world of high school cheerleading. The ferocity of that sport, the way it unleashes this inner rage, fascinated me. I see something similar lurking in cheerleading. It’s no longer dancing and pompom shaking. It’s rather dazzling and frequently death defying and it speaks to the dark and bold nature of girls, aspects of themselves that too often remain hidden. In cheerleading, it’s given full reign. Which is something to see.
Megan Abbott photo by Drew Reilly
Praise for Megan Abbott: ''Word for word, pound for pound, Megan Abbott delivers more than any writer I know. . . She is simply one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.'' -- Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author ''Abbott turns the stuff of sensational confession magazines into a rich meditation on the unclouded depths of the soul.'' --New York Magazine
'Unputdownable!chillingly well-drawn' Sophie Hannah 'An assured debut takes the Mary Poppins myth and turns it into a menacing tale of the ene
'Unputdownable!chillingly well-drawn' Sophie Hannah 'An assured debut takes the Mary Poppins myth and turns it into a menacing tale of the enemy invited in! Araminta Hall has turned the perfect nanny trope into something much more disturbing. Imagine a mash-up of Mary Poppins with Stephen King and you get the general idea! What makes this smartly written first novel so disturbing is its moral ambiguity; Hall keeps us engaged with all the characters, even the duplicitous Agatha, right up until the end. I suspect that this will be the first of what promises to be a new genre: the nanny chiller.' Daisy Goodwin, lead fiction review, The Sunday Times 'Chilling and suspenseful' The Sun's 'Best of 2011' book picks 'An unsettling, menacing read.' Grazia, 2011 Reading List selection 'A suspenseful and emotive examination of a family in meltdown!Hall's tale is told assuredly and touches on the darkness, tensions and unhappiness behind the facade of daily family life. It's a skilfully executed debut novel that nestles perfectly alongside the dark, nuanced psychological thrills of Daphne du Maurier and Sophie Hannah.' Waterstones Books Quarterly '"Everything and Nothing" is a beautifully written, completely gripping novel that plays on the unsettling notion that sometimes the least safe place is your very own home.' Emily Mortimer
A gripping psychological suspense novel, from an exciting new talent. There's no such thing as a safe house! As children, we are told not to talk to strangers. But as adults we welcome them into our homes. So how do we know exactly who to trust? On the surface, Ruth and Christian seem like an ordinary working couple with two kids -- and a home in chaos. As the cracks in their marriage widen, they decide to get their very own super-nanny, Aggie. Quietly efficient, she brings calm and order, and the children adore her. But why is Aggie so eager to gain their trust? Is there something sinister about her efforts to create the perfect family? And what is she really doing in their home? Everything and Nothing builds to a mesmerising climax in a story that is, at its heart, about thwarted and damaged love
When no less an authority on the crime genre than Val McDermid grants the royal seal of approval to a novel, attention must be paid. Caro Ramsay's Abs
When no less an authority on the crime genre than Val McDermid grants the royal seal of approval to a novel, attention must be paid. Caro Ramsay's Absolution is the latest recipient of the McDermid largesse, and this is undoubtedly one of the most impressive debut novels in the field in some time. Of course, the Glasgow setting is familiar territory for aficionados of the tough modern crime novel (and hard-edged Scottish crime writing has been pretty thoroughly colonised by such writers as Ian Rankin), but Ramsay shows that there is still new work to be done in this area. The Crucifixion Killer is cutting a bloody swathe through luckless female victims, leaving them to bleed to death with their arms outstretched. The case is a hot potato for DCI Alan McAlpine and his associates -- and not just because of the imperative of catching a savage killer. In 1984, McAlpine was just a PC on the beat, assigned to guard a woman whose face been mutilated by an acid attack. Disaster followed this assignment, and McAlpine has been living with the consequences ever since. But as he gets closer to the truth about this more modern monster (aided by his colleagues DS Anderson and DS Costello), it's clear that he needs to settle accounts with ghosts from his own past. As this synopsis might suggest, we are most definitely in disturbing territory here -- this is the kind of crime writing that takes no prisoners, and those who want comforting Home Counties mysteries should steer well clear. While Ramsay's uncompromising novel has hints round the edges that reminds us it's a debut novel, the final effect is genuinely accomplished, and it's clear that Caro Ramsay is a name we'll be hearing from again. --Barry Forshaw
"Clyde gives an excellent performance" Sue Baker, Publishing News"Jeremy Clyde's reading cannot be faulted. His characterisations are subtle a
"Clyde gives an excellent performance" Sue Baker, Publishing News"Jeremy Clyde's reading cannot be faulted. His characterisations are subtle and he brings considerable drama to the unfolding narrative. This is a gem." audiobooksreview.co.uk
Cuckoos lay eggs in other birds' nests. The clutch that was fathered on the quiet little village of Midwich, one night in September, proved to possess a monstrous will of its own. Imt promised to make the human race look as dated as the dinosaur.
Rudy Baylor, a new law school graduate, once dreamed of the good life as a corporate attorney. Now he faces joblessness and bankrup
Rudy Baylor, a new law school graduate, once dreamed of the good life as a corporate attorney. Now he faces joblessness and bankruptcy--unless he can win an insurance case against a heavyweight team of lawyers, a case that starts small but mushrooms into a frightening war of nerve and legal skill that could cost Rudy not only his future, but also his life.
From Publishers Weekly
Grisham's intricate, spellbinding sixth novel differs from his last few?it's his only book with first-person narration and his first since his debut to be set in a courtroom?but the trademark Grisham touches are in place. Rookie attorney Rudy Baylor is the customary David fighting a legal Goliath (here a multibillion-dollar insurance company), and the suspense builds with impeccable pacing despite workaday prose. When the modestly sized law firm that contracted for his future services unexpectedly merges with a tony Ivy League firm, Rudy finds himself without a job and bankrupt. Filing a $10 million lawsuit takes away some of the sting, as does a lonely elderly woman's offer of low rent on a small apartment in exchange for rewriting her will. To make a living, Rudy finds himself chasing ambulances for a racketeering shyster, leading to his becoming enthralled with a beautiful young woman hospitalized by her husband's murderous attack. When Rudy agrees to represent the parents of a dying 22-year-old denied insurance coverage for a bone-marrow transplant, he finds that he is up against the firm that broke contract with him. Melding the courtroom savvy of A Time to Kill with the psychological nuance of The Chamber, imbued with wry humor and rich characters, this bittersweet tale, the author's quietest and most thoughtful, shows that Grisham's imagination can hold its own in a courtroom as well as on the violent streets outside. Major ad/promo; large-print edition, ISBN 0-385-47512-8; audio rights to BDD Audio. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.