Tag Archives: Crime

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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Filed under Murder, Mystery, Short Reviews, Thoughts

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2008

Borrowed from the library.

I read mysteries but don’t often write about them because there are so many good mystery/crime  book blogs out there.  I remember reading Case Histories some time ago, enjoying it and then forgetting about it.  I won’t forget the third Jackson Brodie novel as easily.  Here is a brief synopsis from the publisher:

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls “an absolute must-read.”

What is most interesting about this is that, even though it is a “Jackson Brodie” novel, Jackson is actually overshadowed by several other characters.  Joanna, Reggie and Louise Monroe, a woman Jackson once worked with

Here’s Reggie:

Reggie remembered waving as the taxi pulled away from the curb, but had her mother turned back to wave to her or had she been fussing still with her suitcase?  The memory was murky, half made-up, with the missing bits filled in.  Really, every time a person said good-bye to another person, they should pay attention, just in case it was the last time.  First things were good, last things not so much so.  From page 80.

And Joanna:

She was bereft, her whole life was an act of bereavement, longing for something she could no longer remember.  Sometimes in the night, in dreams, she heard their old dog barking and it brought back a memory of grief so raw that it lead her to wondering about killing, the baby, and then herself, both of them slipping away on something as peaceful as poppies so that nothing hideous could ever happen to him.  A contingency plan for when you were cornered, for when you couldn’t run..From page 272.

And Louise:

….Louise was ever a good deceiver, she often thought that in another life she would have made an excellent con woman.  Who knows, maybe even in this life, it wasn’t over yet after all.

She should have told the truth.  She should have told the truth about everything.  She should have said, “I have no idea how to love another human being unless it’s by tearing them to pieces and eating them.”  From page 290.

Why is this novel so memorable?  Because Atkinson has written a mystery that is more than a mystery.  She has  connected many different characters, brought them together using various plot lines and made it all believable.  To some, parts of this novel could seem contrived,  but at least to me, they never do.

These people are real.  I know them.  Sad, flawed, at times filled with hope, they deal with their lives as best they know how.  And Atkinson’s sharp humor had me laughing out loud.  I hope she writes another in this series.

Other reviews:

A Bookworm’s World

Shelf Love

Vulpes Libris

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Filed under Mystery, Review