Angie's Reviews > Available Dark

Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand
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Apr 17, 12

bookshelves: noir, mystery, scandinavia
Read from April 13 to 17, 2012

Perhaps one of the best "Scandinavian" mysteries/crime pieces I've read since "The Inspector and Silence" by Hakan Nesser and "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo. (Those may have been the last two I read; or, rather, the last two I could finish. I try to read more of those than ever get reported on this site.)

The only difference this title brings is that it is a true "crime" novel, rather than a "mystery." The protagonist is a photographer with a talent that has almost left her, and a woman desperate for a high of any kind. I enjoyed the hallucinatory quality of the description of this character on drugs and alcohol (the book in these scenes is more like "A Sheltering Sky" than "Naked Lunch).

Cassandra (the character) becomes the perfect narrator to describe Iceland, especially its flat, featureless inland, which she sees for the first time on crank. The author is able to portray what Cass is experiencing, while having her describe clearly what she sees. Perhaps that would be impossible in real life, but maybe not?

My enjoyment of this book was truly enriched by the fact that I read A.S. Byatt's "Ragnarok" this year. I understood all of the Nordic god references, something I would have had trouble doing last year. Be sure you, as a reader, know your gods before sallying forth into this one.

Note: not for the faint of heart.
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