I hesitate to write about this book. It – and the first book, The Name of the Wind – probably deserves a whole post to itself. But I don’t quite know...moreI hesitate to write about this book. It – and the first book, The Name of the Wind – probably deserves a whole post to itself. But I don’t quite know how to talk about it, to write about it. I feel like I need to reread it, reread them. And of course wait for the next book (next year?). The Name of the Wind was such a gorgeous gorgeous loonnnngggg book. The Wise Man’s Fear is just as long (maybe longer – I was reading an ebook version so I can’t really tell), still telling a great story, but a little infuriatingly so, because other parts of the story are not moving along at as fast a pace as I would’ve liked it (saving the exciting parts for the third book, are we?). Instead we have long bits about other things (I’m trying not to reveal any spoilers here) that are still interesting to read, but perhaps a bit too drawn out. I think I would still read pretty much anything Patrick Rothfuss puts out there.(less)
Three children have been murdered and Inspector Kate Martinelli is on the case. Unfortunately, not for reasons she’d like:
“…it was not amusing to think that she had been assigned to this specific case because she was relatively photogenic and a team player known for not making waves, that she was a political statement from the SFPD to critics from women’s groups, and, worst of all, that her assignment reflected the incredibly outdated, absurd notion that women, even those without their own, were somehow “better with children.””
And she gets Inspector Alonzo Hawkin as her partner, a recent LA transplant, the new guy thrown on this sticky case to save the necks of the higher-ups. He’s not exactly pleased to be assigned this young and inexperienced Martinelli but he has his own baggage.
So the bodies have been found in a close-knit, remote community owned by John Tyler. No electrical lines, no phones, cars allowed up only twice a week. And yet more than seventy people live there. Eccentrics, beatniks and what not, lots of families and kids, no one who really looks the murderer type.
Then again, there’s that reclusive artist, who, as it turns out, was convicted of killing a child many years ago. But Vaun is concealing an even bigger secret, for she is actually a world-renowned artist who channels the “pain and beauty of life” into her work. Naturally, she is a suspect, but when she nearly dies, Martinelli and Hawkins wonder if it is a suicide attempt or if she is being set up.
“Oh, come on, Al, that’s…”
“Farfetched? Yes. The work of a madman? That too.”
Kate began to shiver. “But why? Why would someone hate her so much? Why not just bang her over the head on one of her walks and make it look like an accident?”
There are many different threads running around this story but it all works thanks to the interesting back stories King weaves together, as well as the great characters she has crafted in Vaun, Kate and Al. And even a strangely charismatic murderer:
“He was very attractive, sexy, dark and dangerous, aloof . He exuded an aura of secret power. And he was an outsider, but by choice, rather than being left out. That was a feeling I craved, that self-assurance. Together we could look down on everyone else. I felt chosen, powerful, unafraid— even pretty, for those few months.”
And one of my favourite things about this book was the way San Francisco and the Bay Area glimmered throughout.
From lovely descriptions of its gorgeous – and famous – views:
“Of all views of the bridge that dominated this side of the city, it was this one she loved the best— still dark, but with the early commute beginning to thicken the occasional headlights that passed at what seemed like arm’s reach. The Bay Bridge was a more workmanlike structure than the more famous Golden Gate Bridge, but the more beautiful for it. Alcatraz, which lay full ahead of the house, could be seen from this side by leaning a bit.”
To the little details about life in the Bay Area, such as the occasional blackouts and its microclimates:
“In San Jose a huge area of the grid went abruptly black, and a thousand newcomers to Silicon Valley cursed and cracked their shins on the furniture as they searched blindly for flashlights and the stubs of Christmas candles. Old-timers just went to bed and told each other that it would be all over in the morning.”
“The rain began again an hour later, with that slow steadiness and determination that makes the natives of the Pacific coast check their supplies of candles and firewood.”
“It was a glorious day, San Francisco at her spring finest. The smattering of off-season tourists along Fisherman’s Wharf looked stunned at their fortune, having expected fog or rain, but the rains were nearly over for the year, and fog is a summer resident. The sky was intensely blue and clear, with an occasional crisp white cloud to cast a shadow across water and buildings for contrast. A fresh breeze raised whitecaps, but the sun warmed the bones even on the top deck. Berkeley looked about ten feet away, Mt. Tamalpais was at her most maternal, and a sprinkling of triangular sails studded the blue waters where Northern California’s more successful computer wizards and drug importers took a day at play.”
King, after all, is a third-generation Bay Area resident born and bred, having been born in Oakland and now residing in the Santa Cruz region. So she knows her stuff.
And this book solidly places King in my Read-Everything mental list. I love her Mary Russell (aka Mrs Holmes) series, and enjoyed her most recent release, Bones of Paris, and with the Kate Martinelli series, she has created another appealing female lead (and gruff but charming male sidekick – ok so they are partners but it really is Martinelli’s story) and King’s affection for the Bay Area is just contagious. If you have never read anything by King before, please give her a go! Her books are quite something.(less)
It’s the third part of a trilogy, but it can easily be read on its own (I’ve read the first book, Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror, but couldn’t find the second book, Tales of Terror from the Black Ship, at least not in the library’s e-book catalogue – have since requested the physical book from the library). Young Robert travels by train to school and encounters a woman in white who has a way with scary stories:
“It was a curious thing, but I realised that listening to these stories was different to listening to any stories I had heard before. I felt myself actually there, as if I were a witness to the events being described. It felt as though, instead of listening to the words the Woman in White was saying, I was actually seeing images, hearing voices; it was like a dream, but at the same time more real than any dream.”(less)
Generally you have no consistent memory of anything that happened since your early childhood, but you seem to process new memories in a way I have never come across before. If I left this room now and returned in two minutes, most people with anterograde amnesia would not remember having met me at all, certainly not today. But you seem to remember whole chunks of time—up to twenty-four hours—which you then lose. That’s not typical. To be honest, it doesn’t make any sense, considering the way we believe that memory works. It suggests you are able to transfer things from short-term to long-term storage perfectly well. I don’t understand why you can’t retain them.
Such a promising premise! A woman wakes up every morning and doesn’t know who she is, where she is. She essentially has several different kinds of amnesia and has to figure things out from scratch every single day. So far so interesting, right? Yeah but then it gets a bit repetitive as the narration moves into the form of a (very detailed – too detailed?) journal. And then as we head towards the ending, I am trying my hardest not to roll my eyes at how it just spirals into this rather predictable conclusion that seems perfect for the big screen. Interesting idea, not very good execution, terrible ending – this book was not for me, although I seem to be in the minority as it’s gotten plenty of good reviews on Goodreads!(less)