Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010 books, #31-35

The brutal art by Jesse Kellerman [audiobook]. Read by Adam Sims. Oxford: Isis, 2008.

The third member of the Kellerman family (son of Jonathan and Faye) to write thrillers. This one is a curious book - you really don't like the narrator all that much, particularly in the beginning; it's in a strange milieu, being set in the art galleries of New York; the art in the centre of the plot is very strange and somewhat unpleasant. But starting off from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, telling a biographical plot, is a stroke of genius; it's oddly compelling. I was listening to this on the train, and I may have missed the vital moment which connected points A to B, because somewhere in the middle I think there's a hole in the plot. But that may just have been a fault in my listening... I was prepared to dislike this, in the same way I'm always prepared to dislike a second-generation politician, or rock musician, or whatever; but Kellerman fils is definitely striking out in a different direction... Sims's reading is pretty good, too

The night of the Mi'raj, by Zoë Ferraris. London: Abacus, 2009.

This time's Kniterati [Ravelry link] book. I'd put off reading it until the last minute because I wasn't sure I'd enjoy something set in Saudi Arabia - I'd somehow missed the fact that it was also a detective story, possibly because the library seems to have it down as General Fiction, which is really quite weird. It's not the best example of a detective story, and the dénouement is pretty weak, but the atmosphere and environment are very interesting. I know nothing at all about Saudi society, so I have no idea how accurate any of it is, but the pride and prejudice displayed in this book were fascinating, and I look forward to the discussion.

The girl who played with fire, by Stieg Larsson [audiobook]. Read by Saul Reichlin. Rearsby, Leics.: W F Howes, 2009.

A blindingly good sequel to The girl with the dragon tattoo. Larsson is the same sort of dangerous narrator as Jeffery Deaver - there's no guarantee that even major characters will survive; and none that they'll be honest, or innocent - there are no innocents in this novel. You have a feeling that he's prepared to do literally anything - and in this one, he actually does, while leaving himself enough rope for the final novel in the trilogy.

Murder is academic, by Christine Poulson. New York, N.Y. : St Martin's Press, 2004.

This is one set in Cambridge; an academic turns detective after the death of an English department colleague. It has some very nice characterisation, and the plot twists and turns well. Its sense of the geography of Cambridge is also very good - sometimes this can be totally exasperating in books about places you know well. There's the occasional "huh??" moment when she talks about University procedure (but maybe it's changed...) and I think there's one loose end in the plot which is never tied up (I lent this to a friend immediately on finishing it so I'll have to go back and check that), but it's a very engaging quick read.

The crossing places, by Elly Griffiths [audiobook]. Read by Jane McDowell. Bath: Chivers/BBC, n.d.

Another one set in my general area, in North Norfolk; this was originally recommended by a member of the Archers group on Ravelry when we were talking about Woodhenge. Another academic (this time an overweight archaeologist living with her cats) gets involved in detective work after bones are discovered near the henge site; these turn out to be Iron Age, but she's gradually drawn in to a more recent murder hunt. The depiction of the landscape around King's Lynn is very good, and the plot is gripping, with some genuinely terrifying moments. I'll be looking for anything else Ms Griffiths has written...

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