Mini Reviews [July 2018]

I intended to do another full-length review but it never happened, so here I am, rushing to keep up again.

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1) The Dry (Jane Harper)
Another small-town-secrets mystery novel does a great job. With a heavy dose of atmosphere Harper leads us through drought-struck Kiewarra where three deaths have brought Federal Agent Aaron Falk back to the place where, around twenty years ago, he was once accused of murder and his best friend Luke was his alibi. Now, Luke is dead and looks to have murdered his wife and son as well. As Falk attempts to unearth the mystery surrounding this family tragedy, he is forced to go back to the tragic incident in their childhood that led to his exile from the town. I actually really enjoyed reading this; Harper writes well and easily paints a vivid picture of the heat-struck Kiewarra and its suspicious inhabitants. While I felt the last mystery to complete the picture went for an obvious solution, the other pieces of the puzzle fell in very well and I didn’t see any of it coming. That said, I prefer her writing (which is excellent) to the mystery aspect. Harper is a journalist and this is her first novel; I definitely want to keep an eye out for whatever she writes next.

2) My Sister’s Bones (Nuala Ellwood)
I feel I can’t quite talk much about this without giving everything away. Kate Rafter, a successful reporter hardened by the terrors she’s seen in war-torn territories in the world returns to her home in Herne Bay when her mother dies. There she is forced to confront strange things she’s been hearing and seeing, and her contentious relationship with her alcoholic sister Sally. The first part of the book is Kate’s point of view, and the second is Sally’s. There’s nothing really wrong with this book except it reminds me too much of other very popular ones (which I won’t name, because that would give away the mystery). It’s also quite violent at points. While it was a quick, interesting read it wasn’t very remarkable for me. Probably one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ books. The solution is one I’ve seen too often and don’t particularly want to read again, but if you find the plot interesting you should give it a go.

3) Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (Sue Townsend)
The fifth Mole novel, this covers Adrian’s exploits as a thirty-year old divorcee with a son working at a restaurant called Hoi Polloi and generally finding himself in awkward situations. I read this entirely for a laugh. I think though, on balance, I prefer the ones where he was younger.

4) We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
It’s been almost exactly a year since I tucked this away on my shelf, and I finally pulled it out and read it. I often say I look forward to reading something and am disappointed, but in this case I had heard a lot about this book and was really frustrated to discover it wasn’t really my kind of book at all. I hope to god Kevin is one of those one-in-a-million bad seed kids. Shriver’s epistolary novel is basically Eva Khatchadourian writing to her husband Franklin about their life together, and specifically, about their son Kevin. In the lead up to the school shooting where Kevin kills nine people, Eva tells a truthful account of his upbringing and perhaps leads us to guess at several reasons why he might have done what he did (although I think the honest answer is, no one really knows). I don’t really want to indulge a character like Kevin by discussing it (nor do I feel I could do justice to it if I did), I’m not sure if he was modelled on anyone in particular, but by and large this book disappointed me because it just felt like a long list of his evil deeds. I didn’t really mind Shriver’s verbosity, I thought it was occasionally interesting and occasionally unnecessary, but really this is a very depressing read without any payoff. As one can imagine, really. I’m not sure why it didn’t strike me sooner that I wouldn’t really like it.

See you soon!

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