Sunday, 20 January 2013

Book talk on a cold, snowy morning...


I can hear the wind blowing wildly outside this morning, and I know it’s gotten very cold overnight, so I think it’s a good day to stay in and curl up with a hot cup of tea and a good book, which is exactly what I have planned for today.

I read Say You’re Sorry by Australian writer Michael Robotham last week, and it was the kind of book I love to read, the type that I can’t put down, and when I’m forced to stop reading for some reason, I can’t wait to pick it up again.  It is a psychological thriller in a series that features Joseph O’Loughlin as the main character, a psychologist who also does some profiling for the police.  In Robotham’s first novel, The Suspect, O’Loughlin gets involved in the investigation of the murder of a woman whom he knows slightly.  As the investigation proceeds, O’Loughlin becomes a suspect in the murder, and of course it is up to him to find the evidence to free himself from the suspicions of the police.  I think it’s the best in the series, which is not actually identified as a “series”, but features the same main character throughout.  There are also a couple of his novels that feature a detective inspector, Vincent Ruiz, which I have enjoyed less than the ones with O’Loughlin.  Say You’re Sorry is great because it has O’Loughlin as the main character but Ruiz is also featured as he assists O‘Loughlin in this investigation.  This novel begins with the double homicide of a couple in a farmhouse outside of Oxford.  O’Loughlin is called in to help assess a developmentally-challenged man who has been brought in as a suspect in this case.  He determines that the man they are holding could not have committed the crime.  The body of a young girl is found nearby, who turns out to be one of the Bingham Girls, two girls who went missing three years earlier.  So the hunt begins for the other missing girl, as she is believed to be still alive.  I don’t know why I enjoy Robotham’s books so much.  Maybe because they are very readable; that is, his characters are consistent and believable,  his stories flow and everything fits together, there is no guesswork involved in reading his work, everything makes sense, but his books are also suspenseful.  Of course, his main characters also have their own back stories, which makes this reader want to read the novels in order, but that is less important with these novels, at least in my opinion.  I think a reader new to Robotham could pick this novel up and enjoy it nearly as much as one who has read his books from the beginning.  I think back to Blue Monday by Nicci French, the novel I didn’t end up finishing last week.  Well, it is the first in a new series by this author (a husband-and-wife team) set in London and featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein.  Described as a psychological thriller, there are many similarities between French’s novel and Robotham’s.  Similar main characters, similar settings, and similar storylines.  Actually, when I began reading Blue Monday, I was reminded very much of Kate Atkinson’s mysteries featuring ex-police detective-turned-private investigator Jackson Brodie.  The title, Blue Monday, reminded me of Blue Mouse, a stuffed bunny that played a significant role in Case Histories, the first in the series.  Both Blue Monday and Case Histories begin with 20-year-old still-unsolved cases of the abduction of a young girl, but also move on to current cases in which each of our main characters are involved.  So why did I love Case Histories and  Say You’re Sorry, but gave up on Blue Monday so quickly?  All are psychological mysteries set somewhere in the UK, all are not overly fast-paced, but depend more on the psychological exploration of the perpetrators, the victims, their families, and the psychologist/police involved in the cases.  All of the main characters, not official members of the police team investigating the cases, are flawed and rather introverted.  I should love Blue Monday, but I think the writing was a bit disjointed and difficult to follow, which was the reason I gave up on it.  Now that I think about it, though, I want to give it another try.  That’s why the library is a great resource - there is no commitment to the book since I didn’t buy it, but I can change my mind about it, too, if I decide I want to give it another go.  So I think I will go to the library today and try to get a copy of this book.

The problem with a book like Say You’re Sorry is that, once I finish it, I want another that is going to grab me in the same way, and the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.  And so I stumble along, trying other novels until I find one that may not be as gripping as the last one I read, but is more interesting than the ones I’ve recently tried and discarded.  I’ve tried to read Dahanu Road, by Anosh Irani, a novel recommended to me as a read alike for Tell It To The Trees, but it didn’t grab me at all.  I also tried reading Eclipse by John Banville, but it was too slow.  I think I will read that novel another time, as it reminds me of The Gathering by Anne Enright and The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, both slow novels of discovery as the main characters reach their “twilight years” (that may not be entirely true for Enright’s novel, maybe I’m thinking of The Forgotten Waltz).  Last night I began reading Ted Dekker’s The Priest’s Graveyard, which I’m sure will be very creepy - not sure whether that’s the kind of reading mood I’m in right now.  I just need something really gripping to read for the next few days, before I start reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover in earnest.

I think that’s all for today.

Bye for now!
Julie

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