The Dark Side….

I’ve been reading a bit on the dark side lately.  One book was a true crime book, one a mystery by a favorite French author and the last is being called a “breakthrough” novel by an American author known for dark, twisted tales.

People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman by Richard Lloyd Parry.  From my TBR pile.

I read about this one in the British press a while back and was so intrigued I ordered it from the Book Depository.    The story of the disappearance and murder of of Lucie Blackman, a twenty-one year old British citizen and  former flight attendant, was front page news in Japan and around the world.  The solving of that crime is a tale built of a combination of incompetence, willful ignorance and cultural crossed wires.

Richard Parry is a bureau chief for the Times of London, based in Tokyo.  He has written a masterful book.

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, translated from the French by Sian Reynolds.  Borrowed from my local library.

I’ve been enamored of Northern European mystery authors for a while.  Henning Mankell, Sjöwall and Wahlöö, Karen Fossem, Arnaldur Indridason.  I could go on.  When I discovered Fred Vargas several years ago I was  delighted by her novels and didn’t understand why she hadn’t become an international phenomenon.

Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his team of quirky detectives get handed all kinds of bizarre cases. The newest one involves a grotesquely mutilated murder victim.  If this series intrigues you I’d suggest starting with the first book, The Chalk Circle Man, which was translated into English after several of the others.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Borrowed from my local library.

I read Flynn’s earlier works and was surprised at myself for enjoying them so.  Sharp Objects and Dark Places are both deal with dark themes, violence, dysfunctional families, serial killers.  Gone Girl is the story of a marriage gone wrong, and then some.  Flynn’s portrayal of her protagonists, and the lengths they go to creating and compartmentalizing their different personas, is nothing short of amazing.

All Flynn’s books take serious jabs at the media, celebrity and American pop culture, which is fascinating because she work  as a reporter for Entertainment Weekly for 10 years.

Have you read any books on the dark side lately?

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20 Comments

Filed under Murder, Mystery, Short Reviews, Thoughts

20 responses to “The Dark Side….

  1. JoV

    People who eat Darkness seems intriguing. but I read the case of Meredith Krescher “Death in Perugia” by John Follain.. and I was so disturbed for a few days after reading it that I thought I am not sure if I want to read another gruesome true crime stories again!

    • I hadn’t heard of “Death in Perugia” but see it’s about the Amanda Knox case(I read your review, it sounds chilling). She’s a local girl, the case was a really big deal here, but I have no desire to read that book. I think what grabbed me about “People Who Eat Darkness” was the fact that the case takes place in Japan, a place and culture that fascinates me.

      Have you ever read “In Cold Blood”?

      • JoV

        Gavin,
        I have In Cold Blood on my shelf but yet to read it and I think the day is near that I will be reading it soon! :)

  2. I just finished Gone Girl a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it for the most part. I’ve a Fred Vargas book sitting on my TBR shelf as I type this.

  3. Gone Girl is most definitely amazing. I usually avoid books about dysfunctional marriages, but that one was so worth it!

  4. I have the vargas here as I’m a huge fan of her work but the other books sound good too. I’ve read a few reviews of Gone Girl now and yours confirms that I have to order it one of these days.

  5. Hi, My name is snowball and I am a murder mystery addict. I am particularly fond of series and good ones are hard to find. Thank you for the new possibility. I hadn’t heard of Fred Vargas. (this makes you an enabler, you know)

  6. Gavin, how did you find An Uncertain Place? It’s the only one I haven’t read by her yet, I’ve really enjoyed all of them, though the last one was a bit of a letdown in who the killer was, and so I’ve been hesitant to pick up An Uncertain Place. I’m delighted you enjoy her so much, too.

    I really want to read Gone Girl, am number 624 on our library request list for it! I should be buying it in paperback next year long before my turn comes up!

    • I’m lucky I got Gone Girl when I did, the last time I looked there were 1700+ hold on it at my library! I enjoyed An Uncertain Place. The mystery is quite involved and I just love Vargas’ characters.

      • Gavin, thanks so much, I will get An Uncertain Place very soon, I think! I was looking at it again not too long ago, and I do really enjoy her characters, and the mysteries are interesting, without fail.

        1700 on your library list – wow! It really is the book of the summer, isn’t it?

  7. Gavin, I actually have check already. There are tiny things I might have translated differently but as a whole it’s very close, almost identical to the French. It flows nicely. The French is a tad more old fashioned in places. Adamsbergs assisstant is super polite. But that’s very French. I think they adapted it a bit to UK/US readers who are used to less formal. But it’s so minor, it’s no flaw. (Just an exampe a text mesage at the beginning where the English says : have smart jkt and tie 4U. In French it says : Got smart jacket for you with t

  8. I’ve been a Gillian Flynn fan since her first book so I’m excited to see her getting this attention for Gone Girl. She does dark very very well. I’m still creeped out by her first book — that dollhouse!

  9. I put Gone Girl on hold at the library, but the list is about a million people long! I’m already getting really impatient.

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