Book review: Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Friday, June 25, 2021 Permalink

In her latest novel, Dream Girl, Laura Lippman is able to draw on her knowledge and experience of writing and the publishing industry to offer up a fairly blunt insight into the life of an author.

Through her lead character Gerry, she also offers some commentary on ‘cancel culture’. I couldn’t quite decide if she was supportive of society’s current penchant for calling out bad or inappropriate behaviour and prejudices, or slightly cynical about how easily some to use (the notion of) ‘cancel culture’ to dismiss stuff that annoys us or with which we disagree. Either way, Gerry finds himself constantly wondering if he’s able to say something or think something lest he be berated for its inappropriateness. It’s interesting because, as we gain more insight into his character and his background there’s a sense that the ‘he doth protest too much’ thing is actually rather warranted.

three-half-stars

Book review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Sunday, March 28, 2021 Permalink

Every Vow You Break is the fifth book I’ve read by US author Peter Swanson and ever since his debut, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, he’s offered readers something a little different. A little off-centre.

His latest is no different. In fact he’s written it in a way that the introduction misleads readers completely. I wasn’t quite sure who I should be trusting or believing. In some ways, he offers us an anti-hero who ends up being a bad guy. Like Clark Kent becoming The Joker. Or something.

three-half-stars

Book review: A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Sunday, March 14, 2021 Permalink

I read A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion in a sitting and certainly enjoyed it. I am however, unsure how to describe it. I’m not a big ‘labeller’ of books. Or anything really. So I don’t mind that I find it hard to decide on this book’s ‘genre’, but I suspect I’m even going to struggle to explain what this novel is about.

The events of the book’s opening are—in many ways—the start of everything that comes after, but it feels as if the genesis of this story comes long before that. Mannion gives us glimpses into the Gallagher family’s history but I felt like something was missing. That a piece of the puzzle left unsaid or unexplained meant I entered the story too late and was playing catch-up.

three-half-stars

Book review: Snow by John Banville

Sunday, November 1, 2020 Permalink

I saw Irish author John Banville interviewed on television just over a decade ago. I’m not sure if he spoke about a book in particular or his creative process but I was sufficiently intrigued to borrow his recent release, The Infinities, on my next library visit.

Now I’m fairly obtuse so usually shy away from anything metaphorical and I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting myself into. But I do recall being enchanted by the book… which is ostensibly about a dying man and his family. Not to mention some meddlesome immortals or gods. In my blissful haze I borrowed his better-known Booker Prize winning The Sea. I wasn’t using Goodreads at the time so my reaction isn’t there but I’m fairly sure (from memory) I barely made it a chapter or two when I put it aside. Its…. weighty slang-ridden prose far too erudite for moi.

three-half-stars

Book review: Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Friday, April 10, 2020 Permalink

Peter Swanson’s latest release Rules for Perfect Murders (also released elsewhere as Eight Perfect Murders) is a very clever novel. I notice Anthony Horowitz has offered up a recommendation quote for the cover, which makes sense as it’s reminiscent of his (more traditional crime fiction) work as well.

I guess, by its nature the book is (in fact) a homage to crime fiction – particularly that by some of the greats. It’s twisty and very intelligently written. Indeed it’s very different. It could have been amazing but (though still a good read) I felt it fell slightly short of its potential.

three-half-stars

Book review: Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Sunday, August 4, 2019 Permalink

I’ve long been a fan of Laura Lippman: her standalone novels as well as her (reporter-turned-PI) Tess Monaghan series.

In my review of Sunburn I note that Lippman is vague about the timing of plot elements so is able to keep we readers guessing. And here, in her latest standalone, she adopts the interesting approach of introducing a lot – like lots and lots – of narrators…. some of whom we meet but briefly. It could be confusing, but it actually works well. And is kinda clever.

four-stars

Book review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Friday, May 24, 2019 Permalink

Every time I read one of her books I confess my love for Alafair Burke. I’m not as wedded to her series with Mary Higgins Clark as I am to her solo books, but she has offered up consistently good legal thrillers for years. Plus I like the way she interacts on social media. #seriously

I also like that her books often offer a taste of contemporary culture and politics – here through the #MeToo and #ThemToo movement as well as light (and deft) reference to the current US political and legislative environment.

four-stars

Book review: Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks

Sunday, April 22, 2018 Permalink

I’m behind with my reviews and not allowed to do any more reading until I catch up… so yesterday I attempted a video review.

Brad Parks’ Closer Than You Know is well paced and kept me guessing for much of the book. The legal procedural possibly rushes the closing a bit more than I’d like but it hooked me enough to read in a sitting.

three-half-stars

Book review: Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Sunday, April 15, 2018 Permalink

US author Laura Lippman has published a myriad of crime fiction and I’ve read a great many, including most of the Tess Monaghan series. Like Sandra Brown, Karen Rose and Nora Roberts she usually offers us a good balance in her romantic suspense novels and her latest, Sunburn, is no different.

three-half-stars