Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 books, #46-50

Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman. London: Bloomsbury, 2011.

Harrison Opoku is eleven and a recent immigrant from Ghana; when he sees a boy he knows slightly stabbed in the street, he decides to investigate in a Boys' Own Adventure sort of way.  Unfortunately he has no idea of the danger he could be leading himself into.  This is, however, quite a joyous book; Harri's sense of fun and enjoyment of life come through, and the details of a pre-teen's daily life, from brands of trainers to how he gets on with his big sister, are poured out in an infectiously amusing way.  I won't spoiler you for the end of this; two of us in our book group didn't see it coming, the third had read the reviews and did...  This was one of the shortlisted books in the "popular" Booker a couple of years ago, and the second we've read as a group; it was a good shortlist!

The betrayal of trust, by Susan Hill. London: Vintage, 2012.

A Simon Serrailler book; and another extremely good novel from Susan Hill.  As ever, you get much more than a detective plot from Hill; and how much murder there is in the book is largely the opinion of the reader.   The detective plot centres around the discovery of bones belonging to Harriet Lowther, a 15-year-old who vanished 16 years before, in a landslide; subsequently, more bones from an unidentified young woman are found.  This is interwoven with the continuing story of Simon and his family, with a generous helping of the continuing discussion of assisted suicide which has run through the series for several books now... Definitely a series you need to read in order, and I have the next one waiting.

Outrage, by Arnaldur Indridason [audiobook].  Read by Garrick Hagon. Bath: Oakhill, [n.d.]

I found this slow to get into, but it built up on me; and the details about Icelandic society are always very interesting.  There are holes in the plot, I think, but this may have been my earlier inattention, and I really didn't enjoy Garrick Hagon's reading of this all that much. Perhaps it was having an Icelandic novel read to me in an American accent, even with a reader as skilled as Hagon, which just didn't strike the right note.

A question of identity, by Susan Hill. London: Chatto and Windus, 2012.

The most recent Simon Serrailler and entirely up to standard.  Old ladies in a new sheltered housing development are being killed in a characteristic way, and there's a connection with an earlier series of murders  I guessed the identity of the killer fairly early on, without really knowing why I was sure; but that really makes no difference with Hill because the plot isn't all there is.  Meanwhile Simon's life takes another turn, and another family secret develops.

White nights, by Ann Cleeves. London: Pan, 2009.

At an art exhibition, Jimmy Perez comforts a man who breaks down in front of a painting; twelve hours later, the man is found hanging.  When it becomes clear that the death is not a suicide, Perez and his colleague Taylor from Inverness investigate.  The Shetland landscape and the intertwined community again play a part in this novel; the "white nights" signify a sort of midsummer madness, where no-one can sleep.  Perez's relationship with Fran Hunter develops during this book; I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them...

1 comment:

ShinyNewThing said...

LoL, I was wondering how someone could be "slightly stabbed", did it mean that the knife only went in a little way? Or perhaps they dodged at the last minute?

Then I re-read it :)