Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 books, #41-45

Fear in the sunlight, by Nicola Upson [audiobook]. Read by Sandra Duncan. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper, 2012.

Another excellent Josephine Tey novel by Upson, this time largely set in and around Portmeirion and playing on Tey's short relationship wtih Alfred Hitchcock, who adapted her novel A shilling for candles for the screen. All the usual figures in Upson's version of Tey's life are present, and the plot is well up to standard, albeit with the usual number of unlikely coincidences... you don't mind that sort of thing when something rattles along as well as this, though.

Gone girl, by Gillian Flynn. London: Phoenix, 2013.

This is quite astonishing.  As far as the plot goes - a guy running a bar in his hometown in Missouri finds out that his wife is missing; it's their fifth wedding anniversary.  Very early on, we also find out that he's lying to the police, but we're not sure what about.  And really, saying anything more about the plot would be bad in terms of spoilers.  If you're not easily upset, read this book.  It defies so many of the conventions of a detective story plot and its resolution...  I'd love to say a massive amount more about this book, but equally, I don't want to spoil something really quite unusual for anyone else.

Dying fall, by Elly Griffiths. London: Quercus, 2013.

Right up to Elly Griffiths's usual standard.  Ruth hears of the death of a college friend, Dan, in a house fire on the same day as she receives a letter from him, saying he's made an important archaeological discovery but is scared; later, she finds that the fire wasn't an accident and that the house was locked from the outside.  When she gets an invitation from the department to view the bones, she also starts receiving threatening texts.  She wouldn't be Ruth if she didn't head straight into danger, daughter Kate and Cathbad the Druid in tow; unknown to her, Harry Nelson is also on holiday in Lancashire with his family.  Excellently plotted with some genuinely scary moments.

Dead scared, by S J Bolton. London: Bantam, 2012.

I've had this for a year; I really should stop buying books because I "keep them for best" rather than reading them when they come in!  This was incredibly good and I sort of inhaled it.  It's a second book with Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury, but also features Evi Oliver from another book entirely, and set in Cambridge.  A pattern of woman students killing themselves has aroused suspicion, and Lacey is sent undercover as a student called Laura Farrow.  Lacey has been told not to investigate, but can't help herself, exasperating Joesbury; she teams up with Evi and very strange things start happening to both of them.  This gets Cambridge very right, and it has some absolutely terrifying moments... Brilliant.  And I gather there's another one out - only advantage of leaving reading this one very late!

Murder in Belleville, by Cara Black. New York: Soho, 2000.

Tension mounts in Belleville as hunger-strikers protesting about immigration rules come close to death in a local church. Meanwhile, one of Aimée Leduc's friends is almost killed in a car-bombing which murders a mystery woman living under the name Eugénie Grandet (the French equivalent of calling yourself Jane Eyre). Aimée becomes involved in the networks of Algerian nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists, mixing with everyone from government ministers to explosives dealers.  As with the previous book, Murder in the Marais, Paris is a character in this book and you can follow the track of the action through Google maps - the events taking place in a primary and nursery school are based on actual schools in that street.  (As this is the general area of the school I taught at for a year in the late 1980s, this is very pleasing!)  Black's plotting isn't the tightest out there - this is an action thriller rather than a detective puzzle - but it's an immensely enjoyable book.

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