This week’s reading:
- Nineteen Seventy-Four, David Peace
- Nineteen Seventy-Seven, David Peace
- Nineteen Eighty, David Peace
- Nineteen Eighty-Three, David Peace
- The Manual of Detection, Jedidah Berry
- Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, Agatha Christie
- BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker
Ack! I have a pile of read books as high as my waist, so I’d better get a move on with this.
This batch of books is all mysteries of various sorts, but perhaps only Agatha Christie (or Old Reliable, as I think of her) really lived up to expectations.
That’s not to say that the books were bad. In fact, I liked them all, even BoneMan’s Daughters. I was in the mood for a silly thriller; this one was quite silly and not so badly written as to make me tear my hair out. I’d find serial killer novels less irritating if there were fewer of them, but this one had some neat “let me try to outwit the killer and stay alive” elements that made it worth reading, if you like that kind of thing. When I’m in the mood for action, I really enjoy it!
David Peace, on the other hand, is hard to say “enjoyed” about. His work is dark and devastating as hell. Even though the books creeped me out, I couldn’t put this series down. His book titles give the years in which terrible crimes take place in Yorkshire, though it isn’t until the flashbacks of the last book that you’ll have a clue as to why certain things happened in previous novels. Unfortunately, he loves to lapse into stream of consciousness-y poetic asides that I found basically unreadable. He also writes from the assumption that a bad thing happening to a woman produces a corpse (or occasionally a traumatized survivor), while a bad thing happening to a man produces danger and action. When the author of BoneMan’s Daughters has a larger role for female autonomy and power than you do, you know you’re doing something wrong.
Finally, The Manual of Detection is exactly the sort of thing I like, executed in a not-quite-good-enough way. It’s a magical-realist-detective thing, with Highly Symbolic Bureaucracy and Important Hats and Cases With Bizarre Names. It starts out gloriously and has some unforgettable moments, like when the main character follows the memories of a dead man through dreams. Unfortunately, what starts out as mysterious and magical tips over into twee by the end of the book. I think the author just got carried away with his own cleverness, because the first two-thirds of the book are damn clever and lots of fun. Even though you may also roll your eyes at the end of the book, this one’s definitely worth reading.
On to tackle the next stack!