Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013 books, #66-70

On Canaan's side, by Sebastian Barry. London: Faber and Faber, 2011.

Lilly and her fiancé Tadg flee Ireland for America; Tadg is in the Black-and-Tans and has been put onto a death-list by Republicans for alleged atrocities.  Seven decades later, Lilly tries to make sense of her life as an 89-year old, in the context of the death of her soldier grandson.  Lilly's story mirrors the history of the twentieth century, but weaves obliquely in and out of it.  This is a sad, sad book, with luminous moments of language.  Lilly is an everywoman, present at the Easter Rising, with a brother in WWI, a friend in WWII, an employer involved in the Civil Rights movement, a son in Vietnam and a grandson in the Gulf War; and still remains somehow wrapped in her own cocoon.  There is so much loneliness here...  and, if you're me, quite a lot of frustration at Lilly's lack of curiosity about the world around her...  Barry's skill at writing a first-person female narrative is impressive, though.

The kill room, by Jeffery Deaver. London: Hodder, 2013.

A Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sach book; and another excellent one.  An anti-globalisation activist is killed in the Bahamas, and an assistant district attorney comes to Rhyme saying she wants to prosecute the head of an ultra-secret government agency for commissioning the death.  Rhyme can't mobilise his usual forces, but Lon Selitto is never averse to working as a double agent, and there's an excellent new character, a police sergeant in the Bahamas.  Meanwhile, someone is working to get Sach out of the police force on medical disability, and Rhyme has surgery of his own to face.  As ever, Deaver merges the personal and the criminal, but this time it has a twist of the post-9/11 political, too.  And as ever, there are twists, turns, and false alarms; increasingly, he's taking you along with these as a knowing participant.  Most of the time.

Gone tomorrow, by Lee Child. London: Bantam, 2009.

After about two pages of this, I realised I'd already read it.  Or had had it read to me.  I see I completely failed to register any plot details that time round...  The initial scene is extraordinarily arresting, and somewhat terrifying. After that, the rest of the plot is slightly amorphous; there are atrocities in Afghanistan, there are killings in New York, but the reason I couldn't remember what happened is that once you get onto the plot track, there's one seismic shock, but it has a lot less in the way of plot than most of the Jack Reacher books do.  A good read for all of that.  Again.

Dead man's time, by Peter James. London: Macmillan, 2013.

Creepy one, this.  We already know that an ex-convict and Roy Grace's ex-wife are moving closer and closer to him, his new wife Cleo and their infant son Noah. In the middle of this slow burn, a 98-year-old woman is tortured to death in her home while an estimated £10 million of antiques are stolen, and her 95-year-old brother, an equally wealthy antiques dealer, is using his connections to find and punish the people responsible.  The story starts in the early 20s in New York, and the stories are intertwined; I think I enjoyed this even more than the last couple of Roy Grace novels.

Six years, by Harlan Coben [audiobook]. Read by Kerry Shale. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper, 2013.

The love of Jake Fisher's life, Natalie, married another man six years before the story starts.  When Fisher comes across the husband's obituary, he can't stay away and attends the funeral.  But the grieving widow isn't Natalie. As Jake investigates, he finds that the more he discovers, the less he knows - and there are a number of people who are extremely keen to keep him in ignorance.  This is Coben at his best - you're as lost as Jake is, and each time a new explanation seems to work, it gets darker and darker. An excellent reading by Kerry Shale, justifying his near-national-treasure status again...

1 comment:

Mairead Hardy said...

I've only read one Sebastian Barry book - The Secret Scripture, but would echo your comments about how well he writes from a woman's perspective. I also felt that you got a very strong sense of 'Irishness' from his style - or is that just me?