Sunday 16 September 2012

Sunday morning book thoughts...

As I sit drinking my chai tea on this gorgeous Sunday morning in September, I'm thinking less about reading and writing than about getting outside and enjoying this beautiful day, so this may be a short post.

I wanted to talk about Peter Robinson for a bit.  I finished his new "Inspector Banks" novel last week, Watching the Dark, the 20th in the series.  The murder that begins this novel is that of a police officer, DI Bill Quinn, who is staying at a treatment centre for police who are recovering from injuries.  He is discovered early one morning shot through with a crossbow on the edge of the woods, and DI Banks is called in to investigate the crime.  The investigation ends up involving an officer named Joanna from the Professional Standards Department, since the murdered officer may have been involved in illegal activities.  It takes Banks and Joanna over to Estonia to investigate Quinn's involvment in the disappearance of a girl there, Rachel, six years earlier.  As expected, this novel was a page-turner, and it was interesting to have the whole team back and working together. Something interesting I noted when I first started reading this book; I read the front flap to find out what the novel was about, then I started reading the book.  I was confused for a moment, because the character's name in the book is Bill Quinn, but on the front flap, it is Bill Reid.  Nowhere online could I find any explanation of this; on the publishers' site he is called Bill Quinn, but on at least one Amazon search result, he is referred to as Bill Reid.  Unless the reader did as I did, read the front flap immediately before beginning the novel, this discrepancy would not be an issue, as nowhere in the text is he referred to as Bill Reid, but I found it curious that such a discrepancy would go unnoticed for such a well-known and highly-regarded author .  Upon finishing the novel, I still felt as I did when I wrote my last post, that perhaps it's time for Robinson to do something a bit different, maybe a new series or more stand-alone novels. 

Speaking of stand-alones, I finished reading his first stand-alone novel, Caedmon's Song, last week as well.  It tells the story of Martha Browne, a woman who is searching for the man who attacked her and who is attacking other women even as she searches.  I've read this novel before, but not for a long while, so I remembered very little about the story.  I must not have read the Afterward by the author during my first reading, but I did so this time.  I learned that he wrote the novel in 1987, the year the story takes place, but it was not published until I think 2002.  At that time, Robinson thought about updating the novel to reflect the current times, but he reconsidered for a number of different reasons.  He wrote the novel after completing the first four "Inspector Banks" novels, and he wanted to write a novel from the point of view of a surviving victim, where police involvement and presence was minimal.  He realized that between 1987 and 2002, forensics had advanced so much, and the prevalence of cell phones and the internet was so great, that it would make the original story impossible to take place as he originally intended.  So he decided to make minimal changes and publish it in its original form, which is a very good read indeed.  I find it interesting that the author felt it necessary and/or useful to the reader to include this information, as least in the paperback edition that I have.

I also finished a book from my "required reading" box last week.  Thirst, by Shree Ghatage, tells the story of a newlywed couple in India in the early 1940s.  I thought initially that it was a lovestory, and what a wonderful story it was.  Neither Vasanti nor Baba (Vijay) wanted to be in this arranged marriage, but they are drawn together and learn to overcome the obstacles they face with family and situations to find true love.  But this short novel is far more than a simple love story, although this reader would have been happy enough with that.  No, it is a novel that also explores duty and responsibility.  This reader is not quite sure that the quirky, surprise ending adds value to the novel as a whole - I will have to think about this further.  Having said that, it was a good read, and mostly enjoyable.

Sometime today I will choose another title from the "required reading" box to read this week, then I will reread The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for my new bookgroup - we meet on September 27th.  For now, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing, and I think it's very nearly a perfect day, so I'll get outside and enjoy it.

Bye for now!

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