The summer weather has definitely arrived and I’m not thrilled about it. I know, I know, I’m in the minority, but this weather drains me and zaps my energy. However, it will be this way for the next few months, so I will do my best to enjoy it. Too bad it makes my hot cup of chai less appealing!
After a couple of disappointing books, I wanted something I would really enjoy reading this past week, so I went to my stash of early Minette Walters psychological mysteries and chose one whose story I didn’t really recall, The Echo. Once I started reading it, though, it came back to me in bits and pieces, and unfortunately it’s not one of my favourites. It begins with a homeless man being found dead in a wealthy woman’s garage. Billy Blake died of starvation beside Amanda Powell’s food-filled freezer, and she takes an unusual interest in this man’s life story, paying for his cremation and enlisting a local journalist, Michael Deacon, to uncover Billy’s true identity and details about his life. She claims she feels somehow “responsible” for his death, and for the plight of the homeless in general. Deacon doesn’t believe her, suspecting instead that she asked him to help because she thinks Billy could be her estranged husband, James, who disappeared five years earlier after being accused of defrauding his employers, a London banking institution, of £10 million, and whom she has been accused of murdering. As Deacons investigations lead him into the world of the homeless and to enlist the help of others at his newspaper, he forms deep and lasting connections where he least expects them and tries to come to terms with relationships within his own family. This book is well-written, in customary Walters’ style; it is complex and engaging, and the characters are interesting, both as individuals and as part of the network of characters that make up the story. But what I really enjoy about Walters’ books is the psychological exploration of a main character who has committed a horrible crime. Like an onion, Walters peels away layer after layer of the character’s life experiences until we, the reader, come to understand his or her motives, and while at the beginning of the novel we are set to condemn him or her, we are by the end of the novel, while not applauding, hoping for leniency from the courts. This book lacks this characteristic, in that it is told from the point of view of the journalist, and no heinous crime has actually been committed. It also feels quite dated - it was written in the late ‘90s, but there is virtually no mention of technology, despite the main character being a journalist, who you would expect would want to stay connected and to be using the latest communication devices. Anyway, I won’t have a chance to finish it today, as I have to start my book club book for next Saturday, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which is 400+ pages, and I won’t have a chance to read on Monday night because my Friends’ book group is getting together to discuss The Perfect Nanny (it’s amazing how much difference a single missed night of reading can make!).
That’s all for today. Stay cool and keep reading!Bye for now…