Posts Tagged ‘murder mystery’
I keep forgetting I haven’t posted on Faithful Place, even though it’s already in a box waiting to be sent to my dad to read. Let me take you back to the cooler days of July, dear readers, and tell you about my internal debate, which went something like this: “Self, you are broke and trying to save money for multiple vacations. Do you really think that this book will be worth buying in hardback on the day of its release?”
And it was. Matter of fact, Faithful Place might be my favorite of the three loosely-tied-together mysteries. I suddenly had a great deal of understanding for Frank, the main character, who was gruffy and kind of an ass in The Likeness, and even kind of liked him. I was sucked into the gritty side of small Irish town politics, and I tore through this book in less than two days and licked my chops afterward.
Tana French has a wonder quality as a mystery writer in which she’s able to balance character development as well as a quick and engaging plot, and yet, she’s never quite to be trusted in terms of narrator reliability. A writer whom you trust implicitly and yet keeps you on your toes is truly one worth savoring… if only you could stop turning the pages.
And that’s why there’s plenty of time to re-read this book, and why it was so worth the splurge.
After I finished In the Woods and found out Tana French’s follow-up book was about the fascinating and as-yet underdeveloped character of Detective Cassie Maddox, I went to my used bookstore the next day. Readers, I was fully prepared to pay full price for the book in the event that Half Price did not have it. That’s how serious my craving was- I was willing to jettison both a bargain price and Amazon to have it in my hands immediately.
Fortunately, the universe came through for me and there was a lovely unblemished copy of The Likeness in stock AND on the clearance shelf. Never have I felt so taken care of by mystic forces.
The Likeness picks up six months after the end of In the Woods. Cassie has transferred out of the murder department and into domestic violence- until the body of a girl who looked exactly like her AND who was using her former undercover alias (Lexie Madison) is found in an abandoned cottage .
Now comes the part where French tests the reader: exactly how much are you willing to suspend your disbelief? But hey, I watched Iron Man 2 over the weekend, so I was game. A scheme is hatched for Lexie Madison’s roommates to be told she survived the stabbing and is coming home- but for Cassie to be sent in undercover as Lexie to determine possible suspects for her murder.
Still reading? If so, then the rest of the book is quite fascinating, especially as all of the roommates are English majors. Cue the drunk but philosophical talks and the big dreams of not working and just writing for the rest of their lives. I understand; I’ve got the same dream, which is why I have plans to move to a Vermont farmhouse and co-found a commune. But still, it’s quite interesting to watch the group attempt to resist pressures from the “real world” by refusing to engage with their parents or discuss their pasts.
The really dissatisfying part of this book to me was the romance angle between Cassie and another detective Sam. I thought it was unconvincing, underdeveloped, and maybe it’s just because I really liked Rob Ryan, but I was not a fan of their romance at all. I kind of hope that French breaks them up in the future. I also hope I see a lot more of Cassie and Rob Ryan.
In the meantime, I’ll be bidding my time until French’s third book comes out, which focuses on Frank Mackey, the detective who coordinates Cassie’s undercover operation in this book. I might even have to buy it in hardback. Of course, this will mean my copies don’t match and paying full price. We’ll see whether my thrifty Virgo tendencies can hold out, but I’m betting I’ll be beating down the bookstore door on July 13.
A week ago, I did not know who Tana French was. I was wandering through my happy place- a used bookstore after a particularly stressful day at work, and I picked up In the Woods on the clearance rack for two reasons: 1) I liked the cover and 2) I remembered having vaguely heard of this book. I took it home and could not put it down, and then immediately went out and bought French’s second book (also on clearance- win!), and all told, I have read through 900 pages of Irish murder mystery in the past week.
In the Woods opens with the dead body of a teenage girl being found in an archeological dig site. Enter Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox, and throw in an extra complication: this is the same location that Ryan and two of his friends went missing as 12-year-olds. Only Ryan was found, with blood in his shoes and socks, and no idea what had happened to his friends. This event changed the trajectory of his life, especially given his efforts to avoid thinking about the trauma, right up until this case. Enter themes of identity as well, given that very few people know that Ryan was the kid who survived, and it’s a perfect storm for our Irish boy.
French uses the first person, which makes Ryan’s recounting of the case and his not-so-gradual breakdown intensely immediate. In the Woods was not a car wreck that I couldn’t turn away from, but rather a car wreck I couldn’t escape, as I was in the car with Ryan. I wondered what kind of a detective Ryan had been prior to this case, and worried about his liver, and wanted to yell at him when he made his predictable but annoyingly dumb mistakes.
Oh, what a meltdown it was, and still, I liked Ryan at the end of the book, and wanted much more of him and Cassie. And I wanted more of French’s writing, which was surprisingly elegant given that the grisly crime works are not where I go looking to find prose that will move me.
This book is definitely a first novel and was not without its flaws, but I think the fact that I could not put it, or its follow-up down, speaks for itself. Additionally, this was the perfect book to satiate me until The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest comes out later this month. And for anyone to whom I’d like to recommend Larsson but worry about the graphic violence and triggering scenes, I finally have an alternative recommendation: Tana French.
The Club Dumas started off as a really great, geeky murder mystery and then dissolved into silliness about halfway through, which was a let down. It opens with wonderfully seedy characters and a good sense of humor that comes through despite the translation. And hey, it’s a book about books, which is always awesome.
The plot is a bit complicated to recap, so I’m borrowing from Amazon’s blurb by Publishers Weekly: The hero is Lucas Corso, an itinerant rare-book hunter who’d gladly sell his grandmother for a first edition. When a wealthy cookbook publisher and bibliophile is found hanged in his study, leaving behind an original handwritten chapter from Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, antiquarian book dealer Flavio LaPorte asks his friend Corso to authenticate the manuscript. What begins as a straightforward assignment soon complicates into a bewildering tangle of literary gamesmanship as the book detective finds himself swept into a real-life adventure-serial and crime novel rolled into one.
Intriguing, right? And so I picked it up and was rather captivated by Corso and his upfront but less-than-savory actions. Dead bodies follow Corso wherever he goes, but it’s unclear whether it’s related to the Dumas chapter or the books on summoning the devil he’s also tracking down (though the nature of the latter search would seem to lend itself to dead bodies). Additionally, he hooks up with a dark-haired girl who keeps saving his life, appears to be the devil incarnate, and doesn’t care at all about The Three Musketeers. All of these factors seem promising, and yet, I was incredibly let down by the lameness of the ending.
However, I will say that for a book geek, this was a great read in that several dozen books were mentioned throughout the novel, as well as details about old school book-binding, printing, and a fairly interesting history of Dumas and his works. For all of these reasons, I’m not sorry I read it. I’d just advise focusing on these areas of the book rather than whether the plot holds water.
As a side note, this book was also the basis of the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, which I have not seen.