Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In the Woods by Tana French


In the small Dublin suburbs, Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are called to the scene of a murder, where a young girl was raped and murdered. It just happens to be on the edge of the same forest where, as a child, Rob was playing with his two best friends and they disappeared while he was found covered in blood with no memory of what happened. This case stirs up memories of his childhood and that horrible day when his friends went forever missing. As Ryan and Maddox investigate what happened to the young girl, they find something amiss with the family. Is there abuse in the family? Was it one of the parents that killed the child?

This is two mysteries in one as we unfold what happened to Rob as a child and what happened to the murdered young girl. We also learn of the relationship between Maddox and Ryan, which is abnormally close for how short a period the two have known each other and how they work together. The first chapter grabs you instantly and makes you hungry to learn what happened all those years ago. I was actually more intrigued by that mystery than the child mystery, which was pretty standard murder-mystery story fare.

The ending is where this book died for me. I don't mind there not being some resolution but literally nothing was resolved in this book. There's a relationship left off the rails, one mystery is solved and the other isn't, and the one that is solved has a shitty (though realistic) ending. One of those and maybe even two of those would have been ok with me but all three was a let down.

First Line: "Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s."


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald


The Piper family on Cape Breton starts when James meets 13 year old Materia. The two fall in love, despite Materia's family who wants her to marry a good man from Lebanon rather than a local English boy. The family disowns Materia and she's left on her own with James to start their family. She gives birth to a beautiful baby named Kathleen. James and Kathleen instantly connect but Materia can't find love for this child. As father and daughter grow closer, Materia realizes that James' love for his daughter may not be natural fatherly love. Materia takes it upon herself to keep Kathleen safe from her father.

Two more girls are eventually birthed; Mercedes and Frances. Lily also is born, but does not survive. As Kathleen grows older, she shows talent for music and is a beautiful singer. James sends Kathleen to New York for voice lessons but gets an anonymous note stating the child is in danger. James immediately brings home Kathleen, who is pregnant, and eventually gives birth to Lily and Ambrose. Ambrose dies but Lily thrives despite having Polio as a child.

Lily is raised as a sister to Mercedes and Frances. At times, it's as if they have no father. Mercedes being the mom to the other two, Frances being the rebel, and Lily being innocent.

The books starts off very interesting, with a lot of drama. The first half of the book plays out with a common problem and tension on whether James will keep his hands of Kathleen. However once Kathleen is out of the picture, the book starts to fall apart for me. It becomes chaotic with too much going on, many things that I don't understand why they are happening. I had to google a synopsis of the book once I finished to understand why Frances was acting out. Once getting the answer to that, I still didn't understand why. The book ended in a confusing, muddled mess for me, which is too bad since the first part was quite engaging.

First Line: "They're all dead now."


Saturday, September 09, 2017

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard


Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old when she was kidnapped by a stranger and kept in a shed in his backyard for 18 years. During this time she was sexually assaulted and ended up giving birth to two children while captive. She was very dependent on her captors (husband and wife) and critical of how the system let him get away with this for 18 years when he was a registered offender.

This book very simply tells Jaycee's story, focusing primarily on how she was kidnapped and her first few years in captivity. It seems that after a while, everything just blurred together for her and there wasn't much to tell about her last years there.

Some chapters have reflections that tell the reader what she has learned from her therapy since that time. I'm surprised at how normal and well adjusted she seems to be now. However, the writing is very very simple, which matches the grade level that she last was before she was kidnapped. This book was written quite soon after Jaycee was back in a normal life. As mentioned, she seems to have adjusted very well, but I feel like this book would have been better with another year or two of normality under her belt, which would have given her even more perspective on what happened to her.

First Line: "Let's get one thing straight!"


Saturday, September 02, 2017

The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Alder-Olsen


In the forth book of the Department Q series, Detective Carl Mørck and his rag tag crew of Assad and Rose are back to solve cold cases. This time, they are investigating the disappearance of a few people from many years ago. They search for other similar crimes in the same time and find that there's actually a handful of people that went missing all within a few days of each other, and on investigation even further, that there are some connections between them. One of the connections is the head of a new political party called the Purity Party that has some rather conservative views.

As Mørck learns more, strange things start to happen around him. Someone tries to blow his house up, and Mørck knows he is getting close. He has to piece together how all these disappearances are connected.

In addition to Mørck, we also get the view from Curt Wad of the Purity Party and what he is willing to do to protect his legacy, plus we get the view of Nete Hermansen, who is involved with the disappearances. At first, it was difficult to see how these three stories all fit together and I was having problems getting through the book. After about a third of the book I had a better handle on it and enjoyed the story much more.

I don't think this is the best in the series but it was still good. We learned a tiny bit more about Assad, who is definitely the best character in the book.

First Line: "The feeling could get the better of her in an unguarded moment."