Sunday, 17 June 2007

Four more recent fiction

Finished June 13
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman, performed by Linda Emond
This audiobook grabbed me from the beginning. A woman gets into a car accident and instead of staying to deal with it starts walking down the road. When stopped she refers to a dual kidnapping from thirty years before. The woman claims to be the youngest one of the two girls that went missing, but holds out on telling the story of what happens. As we hear about the day the girls went missing from different points of view and gradually learn more and more about what really happened, our mind opens to more and more possibilities. A great suspense book.

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves
The discovery of a young man's body in a bathtub scattered with flowers gets the lead detective Vera Stanhope thinking. When a second body is discovered, also scattered with flowers, this time in a tidal pool, she tries to find a link between the two victims. The group of friends who discover the second body draw her attention. They are very disparate characters and yet seem very close. The character of Vera is well-drawn and sympathetic. As you discover her background and loneliness, and see how she uses it to be a better detective you come to like her more and more. I enjoyed this one, the second I've read by Cleeves and will be looking for others.

Finished June 10
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
As expected Jodi Picoult takes a situation that is difficult to discuss and examine and helps us to see it in new ways. In this case, it is a school shooting, where ten students are killed and many more injured. She shows the leadup to the shooting and the aftermath from many different viewpoints. The four main ones are the shooter; his mother, a midwife; her estranged friend, a local judge assigned the case; and the judge's daughter and shooter's schoolmate and sometime friend. All of them are shown living their lives, making the occasional mistake that all of us are prone to make. They are also shown dealing with the aftermath of the event. The mothers question their own behaviour, wondering if and where they went wrong. You see the precariousness of popularity in high school and the peer pressure and social politics that go on, not merely with the students, but with the teachers and administration as well. Parents try to help their children protect themselves, without always understanding all they have to deal with.
It is definitely a sad book, but also a book that makes you question behaviours and norms and think about ways to make a difference.

Finished June 6
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
This short novel about a young couple's honeymoon night and the summary of its aftermath is very moving. You could see what was going to happen and yet hoped that it would not be as bad as you thought. You felt for both of them, products of their upbringing and of their particular families. You wanted them to find a way through it, that would bring their relationship to a truer, more honest place. It seemed to me to be about many of our failings as humans, about fear of admitting lack of knowledge, pride, fear of baring one's true self, and an inability to admit that we were wrong.

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