Post Script: Enon – Paul Harding

Enon, Paul Harding

Paul Harding

Enon

Random House

ISBN: 9781400069439

 

Description:

The next novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, in which a father’s grief over the loss of his daughter threatens to derail his life.

Powerful, brilliantly written, and deeply moving Paul Harding has, in Enon, written a worthy successor to Tinkers, a debut which John Freeman on NPR called “a masterpiece.” Drawn always to the rich landscape of his character’s inner lives, here, through the first person narrative of Charlie Crosby (grandson to George Crosby of Tinkers), Harding creates a devastating portrait of a father trying desperately to come to terms with family loss.

My View:

“I was walking in the woods, when Kate died,” and so with this profoundly sad introduction we are drawn into a story of a father imploding with grief and despair after his daughter dies in an accident.  This is a beautifully written stream of consciousness/internal monologue of grief, impending madness and drug addiction that will haunt your thoughts and prick your emotions.

Harding pens a visually rich landscape of settings and emotions as we join Charlie Crosby on his trip down memory lane as he recounts and sometimes hallucinates about past times spent with his daughter and his family juxtaposed against the images of his spiral into a drug induced state of numbness. He slowly shuts down and isolates himself with only his grief as a companion. This narrative is tragic and haunting yet there are moments of absolute joy and love when Crosby reminisces about times spent with his daughter;  their love shines like a beacon during the recollection of ordinary every day events – such as feeding the birds, taking a walk together, playing board games…having an ice-cream…

Harding writes beautiful prose. He writes wonderfully powerful emotive descriptions of the everyday… and of Crosby’s rapid descent into drug dependency and total despair as he attempts to deal with his grief and loss. This is a book that will engage the full spectrum of your emotions, it will take you to a place no parent ever wishes to go. A great read.

Post Script – The Long Shadow (aka A Place in the Sun) Liza Marklund

A Place in the Sun

The Long Shadow (aka A Place in The Sun)

Liza Marklund

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Corgi

ISBN: 9780552161961

 

Description:

A violent robbery has killed an entire family on the Costa Del Sol.

Annika Bengtzon is assigned to cover the story for the Evening Post. But when she arrives in Spain she discovers there was a third child – a teenage daughter – who is unaccounted for.

Annika makes it her mission to find the missing girl. But as she delves into the mystery she becomes embroiled in a far darker side of Spanish life than she’d envisioned, as she begins to piece together a terrifying story of violence, abuse and murder.

My View:

An intricate tale of many stories – a journalists working life, a relationship breakdown, families with nasty histories and the big story  of secrets, murder and mayhem. For me there was too much happening in this book – I am afraid it didn’t grip, it didn’t excite and largely I felt like an observer – and I am wondering if any of this is due to reading this in English and not the original script?

There were elements of interest – but for me this book just did not deliver.

Post Script: Others of My Kind – James Sallis

The provocative new novel by the acclaimed master of noir, “the ‘purest’ writer of crime fiction in America today.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

At age eight, Jenny Rowan was abducted and kept for two years in a box beneath her captor’s bed. Eventually she escaped and, after living for eighteen months on castoffs at the local mall, was put into the child-care system. Suing for emancipation, at age sixteen she became a legal adult. Nowadays she works as a production editor for the local public TV station, and is one of the world’s good people.

One evening she returns home to find a detective waiting for her. Though her records are sealed, he somehow knows her story. He asks if she can help with a young woman who, like her many years before, has been abducted and traumatized.

Initially hesitant, Jenny decides to get involved, reviving buried memories and setting in motion an unexpected interchange with the president herself. As brilliantly spare and compact as are all of James Sallis’s novels, Others of My Kind stands apart for its female protagonist. Set in a near future of political turmoil, it is a story of how we overcome, how we shape ourselves by what happens to us, and of how the human spirit, whatever horrors it undergoes, will not be put down.

James Sallis is the acclaimed author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism, including the Lew Griffin series, The Killer Is DyingDrive (made into the movie of the same name), Cypress GroveCripple Creek, and Salt River. His biography of the great crime writer Chester Himes is an acknowledged classic. Sallis lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Karyn, and an enormous white cat.

My View:

A story of a strong female protagonist who survives a horrendous experience of childhood abduction, captivity and sexual servitude before she escapes, survives for a while on the streets before eventually becoming a captive of the child social service system. This woman is tough, resourceful, self reliant and able to study and eventually find a place in the bigger world.  She is remarkably adaptable, self sufficient, without anger and talented. I felt that a good story would unfold but to me the heroine lacked emotions and felt two dimensional. How can a woman who has been through so much be so giving, kind, gracious, helpful and wanting of no real human connection – her character felt to be at odds with her experiences.  It didn’t work for me.

This novel was very spare as the description stated, a little to spare for my liking. I did not connect with this character, I felt she had no real spirit, that her past defined her as only a shell of a person living a day to day existence, surviving but not really living (and that is totally understandable given her situation).  She seems to have no enjoyment in her life, nor any  pleasures, big or small.  She reaches out to others in need of compassion but I don’t feel she connects with them.

 

Post Script: Where the Dead Men Go – Liam McIlvanney

Where the Dead Men Go

Liam McIlvanney

Faber and Faber Ltd

Faber and Faber

ISBN: 9780571239856

 

Description:

Hard boiled and topical thriller set in the Glasgow underworld from the acclaimed writer of All the Colours of the Town.

After three years in the wilderness, hardboiled reporter Gerry Conway is back at his desk at the Glasgow Tribune. But three years is a long time on newspapers and things have changed – readers are dwindling, budgets are tightening, and the Trib’s once rigorous standards are slipping. Once the paper’s star reporter, Conway now plays second fiddle to his former protégé, crime reporter Martin Moir.

But when Moir goes AWOL as a big story breaks, Conway is dispatched to cover a gangland shooting. And when Moir’s body turns up in a flooded quarry, Conway is drawn deeper into the city’s criminal underworld as he looks for the truth about his colleague’s death. Braving the hostility of gangsters, ambitious politicians and his own newspaper bosses, Conway discovers he still has what it takes to break a big story. But this is a story not everyone wants to hear as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the country gears up for a make-or-break referendum on independence.

In this, the second book in the Conway Trilogy, McIlvanney explores the murky interface of crime and politics in the new Scotland.

My View:

Simply brilliant! This book is everything a good crime/mystery should be; it has a well developed story, plenty of interesting well developed characters, a hero you will empathise with, plot twists and turns, a great hook (we wonder till the very last scenes about the woman with the gun mentioned in the prologue), it has relevant contemporary plot lines and plenty of investigative/office drama and tension. The action is well paced and the tension steadily builds as the story progresses, as clues are partially revealed, leads are followed and more questions are asked

 

This is an intelligently written book written by a master craftsman. The scenes are staged elegantly and sparsely; Glasgow is portrayed as a gritty, corrupt and dangerous city, yet it is not a bleak story; the happy domestic situation that defines the protagonist allows the light to shine in. I loved seeing the happy domestic settings, the father who truly loves and parents his children; the father playing with his children, taking them swimming, reading them bedtime stories. These images are such a relief to the grimness of the topic of murders and gangland killings.

 

Although this is the second book in the Conway trilogy it can be read as a standalone without any problems with context. I am certainly adding this author to my MUST READ LIST. Do yourself a favour and add him to yours.

Post Script: Promise – Tony Cavanaugh

Promise, Tony Cavanaugh

Tony Cavanaugh

Promise

Hatchette Australia

ISBN: 978073362847

Description:

Top Homicide cop Darian Richards has been seeking out monsters for too long. He has promised one too many victim’s families he will find the answers they need and it’s taken its toll. Now retired, a series of disappearances see him return to the gun. On his terms. But he knows, every promise has a price to pay. If you love Harry Bosch and Dave Robicheaux you’ll love Darian Richards.

Top Homicide cop Darian Richards has been seeking out monsters for too long. He has promised one too many victim’s families he will find the answers they need and it’s taken its toll. After surviving a gunshot wound to the head he calls it quits and retires to the Sunshine Coast in an attempt to leave the demons behind. But he should have realised, there are demons everywhere and no place is safe. A serial killer is prowling the Sunshine Coast area and Darian tries to ignore the fact his experience could make a difference hunting him down.

All he wants is to sit at the end of his jetty on the Noosa River and ignore the fact that girls from the area have vanished over the past fourteen months. All blonde and pretty. Youngest: 13. Oldest: 16. He knows they are all dead but the cops were saying ‘missing’ or ‘vanished . That s what you have to say if you don t have a body.

Jenny Brown was the first. She vanished sometime after 4 in the afternoon, Saturday 15 October the previous year. Except for her parents and her friends and everybody who knew her, it was thought she was just a runaway. Especially by the cops who allowed a good two or three minutes before arriving at that conclusion. By the time they d reached the gate to the front yard of her house, before they d even walked across the road and climbed into their cruiser, they would ve forgotten Jenny Brown even existed.

But then others disappeared and they couldn t call them all runaways. Darian can t sit idly by and he decides he is going to find the killer and deal with him … his way.

My View:

A truly macabre murder mystery that gives the reader a terrifying glimpse into the evil that men can do to each other; the voice of the villain was malignant, terrifying and freaky and I am glad this was a work of fiction! The hero, Darian Richards was a personable yet manipulative character, worn down by his career in Victoria’s Homicide Squad, seeking a quiet life without the nightmares that accompanied his past work and not averse to taking the law into his own hands. Mix the first person voices of these two characters together in one narrative and you get a fast paced tale of evil doer versus redeemer; the story of a despicable, evil, sadistic villain who hides in plain sight and a renegade, likable, battle worn ex cop who is on a mission to rid the town of this monster – and will do whatever it takes to achieve this, and you have a recipe for a exciting, paging turning, gritty read.

Post Script: Blood Secret – Jaye Ford

This

Blood Secret

Jaye Ford

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Bantam Australia

ISBN: 9781742756776

 

Description:

From a master of suspense and author of the bestselling Beyond Fear, Blood Secret is a teasingly crafted, nail-biting thriller that’s impossible to put down. Nothing ever happens in Haven Bay, which is why Rennie Carter a woman who has been on the run for most of her life stayed there longer than she should. However, that illusion of security is broken one night when Max Tully, the man she loves and the reason she stayed, vanishes without trace. Rennie, though, is the only person who believes Max is in danger. The police are looking in the wrong places, and Max’s friends and his business partner keep hinting at another, darker side to him. But Rennie Carter understands about double lives after all, that’s not even her real name. And she has a secret too, a big, relentless and violent one that she’s terrified has found her again and the man she loves.

My View:

I found this a very engaging and satisfying thriller. I was hooked by the action in the first few pages – Ford creates tension by using a situation many of us are familiar with – road rage; we can place ourselves in this picture, the tension is real. What a great hook!

This novel is fast paced, action packed and nothing is as it appears on the surface.  The characters are likable, earnest, hardworking and real – this is a community that appears perfect, secure and benign to those looking from outside in.  All it takes is one rotten apple and the life blood of community, trust, starts to clot and decay in a spectacular fashion.  Everyone has secrets they do not wish to share.

I liked that the main character Rennie Carter is a strong, self reliant woman with many hidden talents – some she would prefer to remain hidden – along with her gun!  Rennie knows her own mind and takes responsibility for her own actions and safety and is compelled to find her missing partner regardless of what the community or the police may be presuming.

This narrative accelerates down a twisting path of lies and assumptions, greed determines the journey and we do not find the truth until the very end.

A fantastic, absorbing and fast paced read. This book is best enjoyed in one sitting – but you won’t really have a conscious choice in that once you begin reading you will be hooked and compelled to read until you reach the very last page!

Post Script: In the Company of Wolves – James Michael Larranaga

In the Company of Wolves

Thinning the Herd

James Michael Larranaga

CreateSpace

ISBN: 9781478320418

Description:

Quin Lighthorn was released from a mental institution in order to help the FBI with an undercover operation—or so he thought. As part of Lighthorn’s undercover job, he becomes an intern at Safe Haven, a firm that pays out a portion of a life insurance plan to a terminally ill person so long as that person makes the firm the insurance policy’s beneficiary. Within minutes of his first day on the job, Lighthorn witnesses a murder. From there, the plot begins to unravel…

My View;

A well conceived plot of many twists and turns and I do like the author’s analogy of wolf behaviours that allows us to reflect on the behaviours/story in the upcoming chapter; this is a very clever ploy and provides an interesting sub text. I liked the hero Quin Lighthorn, his uniqueness, his quirky behaviour, his honesty and I liked the perspectives his character revealed of some traditional American Indian cultures.

However I think there were a few flaws in the overall narrative (my major concern was that the treating psychiatrist so easily and openly betrayed her patient’s secrets, in today’s world of  tough privacy legislation, particularly those between patient and doctor  I just cannot see this happening), this niggled at me as I continued to read. However, I was sufficiently engaged in this story to allow that factor to just niggle as I continued.

The villains in this piece are unredeemable; bankrupt of emotions and kindness, motivated by pure greed.  Larrinaga’s characters are fully developed and interesting and you never quite know where they will lead you or just who is telling the truth. Lighthorn is an unreliable narrator, that is established fairly early in the piece but towards the end of the narrative when all the story and his history is fully revealed we are left to reconsider our opinions, I liked this aspect.

I really interesting tale of greed, manipulation and murder, somewhat flawed by excessive use of multiple story lines/twists and turns but a none the less enjoyable read.

Post Script: Cold – Stella Cameron

COLD

Introducing Alex Duggins

Stella Cameron

Purple Papaya

Easyepublish

ISBN: 9781621810858

 

Description:

Starting over is never easy but there’s nothing like discovering a dead body to really complicate things.  Alex Duggins left London to return to the small town where she grew up.  Now she finds herself a suspect in the mysterious death of a stranger.  When she launches her own investigation the killer sets out to make her the next victim.

New York Times Bestselling romantic-suspense novelist Stella Cameron turns her pen to the mystery genre with brilliant success, drawing readers into the secretive world of Folly-on-Weir in the English Cotswolds.

My View:

The introduction to this mystery was gripping and tense… a man on a mission to right wrongs, a cry for help in the isolated snow covered back roads… a cruel murder ensues; sadly the rest of the book did not live up to my expectations of a classic murder/mystery, instead I believe I read another romantic- suspense and if that is your genre of choice then this novel is not half bad. It is not my genre of choice.

 

I felt the narrative was too complicated, too many allusions to past lies, hurts, deaths and divorces that were not relevant to this supposed mystery and it wasn’t until the very last chapters the tension began to build. I could not understand why Alex was a threat to anyone initially. Sorry this premise did not work for me.