Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tana French: The Witch Elm

As almost everyone who's ever read my blog (that sadly seems defunct most of the time nowadays) knows I love American crime fiction. But when I read this interview with Irish writer (okay, she was born in the US) Tana French, I knew immediately I'd have to read something by her. I settled on her newest novel and read it during the holidays.

The Witch Elm is a devilishly brilliant novel, with a unreliable narrator who has a reason for his unreliability: he has been knocked out and beaten by some burglars, and due to the concussion he can't remember everything he's said or done. He's not your everyday sociopath that now people almost every crime novel, and he's not a devious criminal. He's just a guy with bad luck - or is he..? 

The Witch Elm is pitch-perfect satire on art world, and furthermore it's full of true notions of the middle-aged lives and the interactions between brothers and sisters. Violence is very scarce, but this is no cozy.

It took me almost a week to read The Witch Elm, but it was very rewarding. It's not usual to read a crime novel that is so well executed, even though the book is quite long (over 600 pages). Yet there's nothing in it in vain. I wouldn't take anything out of the book. It hooks you almost like nothing else. There aren't any of your usual narrative tricks, but the book still grabs you and holds you down. It's truly a wonder Tana French hasn't been translated in Finnish, though seems like they are publishing only books that are sure to sell, namely Scandinavian serial killer thrillers. Blah, say I!

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Book: Donald E. Westlake: Brothers Keepers

I've always been more interested in Donald Westlake's darker and more hardboiled stories than his humorous crime fiction, but I was still delighted to read the rather recent reprint from Hard Case Crime, Brothers Keepers. There's originality to the plot and the characters (it's about monks trying to protect their obscure monastery from the developers), and the prose flows smoothly. Still I would've liked some more fist fights.

Hard Case Crime say on their website that the book has been out of print for 30 years. It was originally published by Lippincott in 1975, but there was a Mysterious Press reprint in 1993, so technically it hasn't been out of print for 30 years.

This was one of the few books I managed to read during my Summer holiday that wasn't work-related. I'll try to get something said about the other books as well. Sorry to keep this so short, but I think it might be fun to get back to blogging (once again!).
The first edition from 1975