3 November 2009
I have to confess I am not really a “who dunnit” reader. I blame watching one to many mind numbing crime programmes on television. I now pretty much don’t care about these imaginary victims with their corpses displayed for my viewing pleasure (they are getting more and more graphic have you noticed?) nor can I be bothered waiting to see who did what to whom and why (their mother was too clingy, they are greedy or just plain psychopaths ). But I do have to confess that Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places” has managed to change that.
None of the main players in this book are likable. There is no truely innocent victim nor some hardened but likable local cop. The main protagonists in this book is the greasy haired angry and depressed Libby Day, who lives off the proceeds of her dwindling trust fund, set up for her when as a child her mother and two sisters were slaughtered in the family’s Kansas farmhouse. It was a seven-year-old Libby’s testimony that sent her then 15-year-old brother, Ben, to prison for life for the murders. Ben, who we also get to know well in the book as an awkward and angry manchild, yearning for a father-figure while being raised in a poverty-stricken household by a single overwhelmed mother.
We meet Libby twenty odd years latter after the murders, when desperate for cash she reluctantly agrees to meet members of the Kill Club, true crime enthusiasts who bicker over famous cases. She’s shocked to learn most of them believe Ben is innocent and the real killer is still on the loose. Though initially interested only in making a quick buck Libby soon begins to question what exactly she saw—or didn’t see—the night of the tragedy.
The book is told in an interesting flashback format, with Libby, tough and damaged narrating the present-day chapters in first-person, while the flashback chapters, told in third-person, describe the actions of several key characters including Ben on one winter’s day in 1985.
Trust me – you will never guess what happened in that farmhouse in 1985 and I challenge you not to have your mouth agape at the end when you find out!
13 March 2009
My colleague Mark was complaining in a previous blog about the lack of gritty crime novels. I think he should try Italian crime novels, part of a genre termed “Mediterranean noir” by those who write about books. I’ve long been a fan of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti, but feel that she has “gone off” lately (another highly technical term used by librarians), so I went looking for some more in a similar vein.
I think I found an arterial supply of gritty stuff. Here are some names; Andrea Camilleri, whose Detective Montalbano is refreshingly sardonic. Carlo Lucarelli’s trilogy of crime novels Carte blanche, The damned season, and Via delle Oche feature De Luca, a police officer who changes sides from fascist to whatever will keep his skin in one piece, whilst preserving his passion for the truth in forensics. Ottavio Cappellani’s two novels Who is Lou Sciortino? and Sicilian tragedee (sic) are the Sopranos as filmed by Fellini. I could go on, but discover Italian noir (should that be nero?) for yourselves.
23 June 2008
It’s a worrying thing when you find yourself rooting for the main character in a television show…and the character in question is a psychopathic serial killer. Let’s just say it gives one pause, but such moral quandaries are par for the course when watching TV3 crime show with a difference, Dexter. Monday nights on TV3 are very much a smorgasbord of blood splatter and forensics with first Bones and then the aforementioned Dexter.
If, like me you’ve been enjoying a regular Monday night dose of crime and punishment then you might like to consider digging a little deeper and checking out some of the crime fiction that’s inspired the shows.
Dexter is based on the novels by crime novelist Jeff Lindsay while Bones is based on the well known series of books by Kathy Reichs.