I haven't read much P.D. James so I don't know if this is one of her best. She does seem to be in top form. James follows her detectives as well as thI haven't read much P.D. James so I don't know if this is one of her best. She does seem to be in top form. James follows her detectives as well as the islanders: victims and murderer both (and keeps us uncertain as to his identity). The result is a compellingly rich tapestry. It seems James's characters enjoy healthy sex lives, especially women, and espcially detectives. Good to know! And don't pay attention to the the back of the book; according to it, Kate Miskin, Adam Dalgliesh's principle detective, "is going throught an emotional crisis." NOT. And: "the ambitious Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is not happy about having a female boss." Not. But that would make for less exciting jacket copy.
An enjoyable read. I'll look for more by her. ...more
Thoroughly engrossing read, very well-written. Rendell is wonderful with human obsession, also class in London. Great characters and the web they weavThoroughly engrossing read, very well-written. Rendell is wonderful with human obsession, also class in London. Great characters and the web they weave is very tightly drawn. Also a light humorous touch....more
One of P.D. James' early ones. Well-written but as with other James's, the murder seems overly complicated and the motive less than convincing.
I've reOne of P.D. James' early ones. Well-written but as with other James's, the murder seems overly complicated and the motive less than convincing.
I've read three of hers recently, and I think she's gotten better with her later police procedurals. But, a few things seem to be constants: ~there will be at least one more murder after the initial one ~the community from which the murderer will be found is tight and isolated: an island, a group of judges, a small oceanside town. ~the death will be complicated, almost ritualistic in certain aspects. ...more
"On a large yellow envelope, he would over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whateveras to Simenon's writing Method:
"On a large yellow envelope, he would over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whatever else he knew about their lives and backgrounds: their ages, where they had gone to school, their parents' professions. The envelope might additionally contain street maps of the novel's setting, although it would never say a word about the book's eventual plot. Once he was satisfied with these notes, he would enter the hermitage and knock of the book at the rate of a chapter every morning, optimally in a week or ten days. After finishing he would be drained, battered by violent psychological storms and concurrent physical symptoms. It was a bit as if he had given birth. It should be noted that he wrote books this way even when he was ostensibly on vacation." (from the introduction by Luc Sante)
This is the first Simenon novel I've read (I think I've read five or six) where I didn't sympathize with the protagonist. Kees Popinga. You don't like him, he appalls you, but you're also increasingly amused by him, by his warped sense of society and his inflated sense of self. His sickness is this: "...As to Popinga, he had no ties--not to a person, or an ideal, or anything at all. And he could prove it too." (85). and in his own words: "For forty years I've been bored. For forty years I looked at life like a poor boy with his nose glued to the pastry-shop window, watching other people eat cake. Now I know that the cake belongs to the people who are willing to take it." (132).
You watch Popinga try to steal his cake and eat it too...and make a mess of things. Luc Sante writes that you close the book "and you realize that all along that you've been reading a comedy." I agree (though I think the comic aspect makes itself apparent sooner). Different from the other Simenons I've read but just as good....more
I'm reading this because my library has only one non-Maigret title ('The Nightclub,' which I read and loved) and about 20 Maigrets. I recently finisheI'm reading this because my library has only one non-Maigret title ('The Nightclub,' which I read and loved) and about 20 Maigrets. I recently finished Simenon's 'The Man Who Watched Trains Go By' and curiously, the protagonist of that novel and the murdered man in this one share a surname: Popinga. Other than that, there is little similarity. J'aime les romains durs... It's his 'hard novels' I love. The Maigrets I find rather comic. But they'll do in a pinch. >>>>>>>>>
This is what's called a police procedural. It was mildly interesting, with none of the psychological depth or astute painting of society that his romains durs have. Small-town life in Holland is portrayed to be sure, in all of its claustrophobia, blandness and conformity, but it lacked the depth (and bite) I've come to expect from Simenon. In fact, it was almost annoying as it was again and again stated more than shown.
This is only the second Maigret I've read and I don't know that I'll read many more. ...more
Good but not as engrossing as the other romans durs of Simenon I've read. A father (Loursat) sequesters himself in his large home after his wife leaveGood but not as engrossing as the other romans durs of Simenon I've read. A father (Loursat) sequesters himself in his large home after his wife leaves, barely communicating with his servants and daughter (who's two at the time). He drinks and broods and seeks no one's company for years. A murder in his house changes the balance of things in the household and Loursat, a lawyer, even decides to take on the defense of his daughter's unjustly accused young lover.
There is much here about the petite and haute bourgeousie, small town life, the deadening of doing what's expected. And there's the beauty of Loursat springing back to life: "He had the impression of plunging back into life. He did things he had long since forgotten--or that he still did, only without realizing he was doing them--like turning up his overcoat collar, thrusting his hands deep in the pockets, and savoring the cold and the rain, the strange reflections of the sparkling streets."
Very much unlike the other novels of his I've read. Not as gripping nor as suspenseful (much of the novel is the trial itself) but worth reading....more
This was good...but not good enough. The story was there, enough to keep you turning the pages, but another quality, that which makes a novel linger iThis was good...but not good enough. The story was there, enough to keep you turning the pages, but another quality, that which makes a novel linger in your brain and being for some time afterward...was lacking. Maybe it's that the characters weren't interesting/memorable enough. The writing is fine, a bit bland. But the story's there. It could have been great but was only okay.
I'd read another novel by Gottlieb in the hope that it's better....more
This was very good...engrossing, well-written yet slight somehow. It felt more like a novella than a novel. Pity that nothing else of Nakamura's--as fThis was very good...engrossing, well-written yet slight somehow. It felt more like a novella than a novel. Pity that nothing else of Nakamura's--as far as I can tell--has been translated into English. He's a young writer, and it's likely he'll get even better with age. The Thief, which won the Oe prize, has a spare feel to it. A crime novel but the crime--he's an expert pickpocket--is clean, without violence. The thief gets enmeshed in a gang, against his will, but he's sharp-witted as well as light on his feet and with his hands... Would like to find him again in another novel. ...more