Friday 20 February 2015

Tea and book talk on a really chilly, below-average cold winter afternoon...

On this bright, cold Friday afternoon, I’m at home with a hot cup of tea (just the regular kind, nothing fancy) and a slice of Date Bread as the schools are closed due to extremely cold weather so I have the day off work.  I thought this would be a good time to write this week’s blog post and free up my Sunday morning, since I had the opportunity to finish a book this morning and would love to write about it while it’s still fresh in my mind.
Before I do that, I should just give an update on Peter Carey’s novel, Amnesia, which I wrote about last week.  I did, in fact, finish it on Sunday afternoon, and the ending was easier to read than the middle section, more focused and direct.  But while the plot made an abrupt environmental shift, which provided a totally plausible cause for Gaby’s hacktivism, in this reader’s opinion, it came too late to save the story, and was barely explored, which made me wonder why Carey bothered to introduce it at all.  So still not a really good book, although the ending did provide some sort of redemption, but again, not enough to save to rest of the book.
And in my list of Australian authors I’ve read, I forgot to include Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret) – I just put her latest book, Big Little Lies, on hold at the library.
Over the past five days, I’ve flown through the page-turning mystery-thriller The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  This roller coaster book was, in my opinion, not as good The Silent Wife, but far better than Gone Girl, by leaps and bounds.  This novel, told in alternating chapters, tells the story of Ted and Miranda and Lily and Brad, each of whom plans to kill at least one of the others.  It’s a cat-and-mouse game of “who will kill whom and get away with it” that becomes so far-fetched and complicated that, at times, this reader had to recheck who was narrating that particular chapter, yet by the end, it managed to seem almost believable again, and the conclusion was both plausible and satisfying.  Much like Patricia Highsmith’s novel Strangers on a Train (I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen the movie at least a couple of times), Ted and Lily, supposedly strangers, meet in London’s Heathrow airport and get talking over drinks in the airport lounge as their flight to Boston is delayed.  Ted opens up to Lily about his cheating wife’s infidelity with their building contractor and his desire to be rid of her without losing a substantial portion of his riches in a divorce settlement.  Lily presents an alternative that at first seems to be a response made in jest, but the more they talk about it, the better it sounds.  By the end of the flight, Ted and Lily have a deal that involves trust, secrecy and murder.  It doesn’t hurt that Lily is a stunning beauty with loads of flowing red hair and a smattering of freckles across her nose, enhancing an otherwise pale, flawless complexion.  But these types of arrangements, as any reader of mysteries knows, rarely go according to plan, and things often go from bad to worse as complications arise.  The plot of this novel twists and turns until the reader is not sure who to trust and whether anyone will reach the end still breathing.  It was definitely a fast-paced read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a complex plot filled with mystery and suspense, a devilishly thrilling read that will leave you furiously turning pages to the very end.
And I’m nearly finished an audiobook entitled Found Wanting by Robert Goddard.  This novel tells the story of Richard Eusden, a British civil servant with the Foreign Office who unwittingly becomes involved in a plot to uncover the truth about the mystery surrounding Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia, lone surviving daughter of the last Czar of Russia.  The answer supposedly lies in the attaché case owned by Clem Hewitson, long-deceased great-uncle of Richard’s oldest and best friend, Marty Hewitson.  When Richard, lamenting his boring life and desperate for a change, encounters his ex-wife Gemma, on the way to work one day, he is more than usually receptive to her cries for help when Gemma asks him to take a train to Brussels to meet her other ex-husband, Marty, to pass on a package, Uncle Clem’s attaché case.  Things get immediately complicated and more characters are introduced in this complex attempt to uncover the secrets buried in the case’s contents.  The story takes us from Brussels to Hamburg to Copenhagen to Helsinki and beyond with Richard, uncovering clues and chasing dead ends and deceptions, all in the course of one week, until I’ve become so muddled in the details of the story that I am just looking forward to getting to the end.  It’s a very complex and complicated plot, perhaps unnecessarily so, but still entertaining enough that I’ve been interested up to now.  But I don’t think I will rush to find other audiobooks available by this author, although the narrator, David Rintoul, is excellent.
That’s all for today.  Have a great weekend, and stay warm!
Bye for now...

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