When I decided to take part in this challenge I had no idea how many Irish books I usually read over 11 months. I knew it was more than the six books that would take me to the "Kiss the Blarney Stone" level, but not how many more. Well, it turns out I read a total of 28 books that were either by an Irish author, set in Ireland or in any other way related to Ireland.
Of course, I live in Ireland and work in an Irish library. Therefore it wouldn't be fair to compare my list of books with anybody elses. I'm exposed to Irish writing so much more than most other people that any comparison would be unfair.
In fact, I've decided that if this challenge takes place again next year, I won't be participating again. Not because I didn't enjoy the process, I did. Rather because I now know that I read quite a lot of Irish books and really don't need to encourage myself to do so.
I want to thank Books and Movies for hosting this challenge. I would never have given a second thought to my reading of Irish books if it hadn't been for her.
And now of course I've got a new goal for next year. I want to improve on this years effort, so in 2112 I want to read at least 30 Irish books.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
AUTHOR: STUART NEVILLE
Details: no. 3 Belfast Thriller
Galya is a girl from Ukraine, tricked into coming to Ireland with promises of a good job, she found herself slaving on a mushroom farm before she was taken into Belfast to be groomed into becoming a hooker.
When a Lithuanian gangster tries to force himself on her in order to “break her in”, she kills him and shortly afterwards finds herself on the run from his friends who want their revenge. Afraid and in a city where she knows nothing and no-one her only hope is the man with the cross, who gave her his phone number. Little does Galya know that her only hope is to turn into her worst nightmare.
Detective Inspector Jack Lennon was hoping to have a quiet Christmas with his daughter when he’s put in charge of the case of a murdered Lithuanian man. When three other men are also murdered, it seems that Jack may have a war between rival gangs on his hands. However, it isn’t long before Jack finds himself looking for the girl who is rumoured to have murdered the first man, unaware that others are looking for her too and that forces very close to him are determined to stop him from solving his case at all cost.
This is a more conventional thriller than its two predecessors in so far that the political issues connected with Northern Ireland play only a background role at best. In this book we are firmly in the territory of the sex-trade, a serial killer and powerful enemies.
In this book there is never a question as to who he bad guys are. The big thriller is how both the girl and Jack will manage to overcome those out to get them. With the odds firmly stacked against both of them, it appears that it will take a miracle for either or both of them to survive.
I enjoyed this thriller. Galya was a wonderful character, easy to identify and sympathise with. Jack Lennon is a flawed man, but also a man well aware of his flaws and doing his best to overcome them in order to be a good father to the daughter he denied for so long and maybe even find a chance at love.
Stuart Neville appears to have no illusions when it comes to the lengths people are prepared to go to when it comes to protecting their own interests and lifestyles, and although I would like to think that he is wrong in that respect, I can’t help thinking that it is probably true for a lot of people.
As with the previous books by this author, I read it with mixed emotions. The story is great, well plotted and a true page-turner. On the other hand, the selfishness, cruelty and indifference of a lot of characters in the books sound so true to life that it makes them hard to stomach at times. Having said that, I am by this stage well and truly hooked on this series, and am already looking forward to my next outing with Jack Lennon.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
AUTHOR: SEBASTIAN BARRY
On the first day after her grandson Billy dies, Lilly Bere, eighty-nine years old, starts writing down the story of her life before she intends to put an end to it.
Over the next seventeen days she writes in her accounts book a story that starts in Ireland before World War I and ends in America during the gulf war.
Before Lilly was twenty years old she had to flee Ireland with the man she loved when the violence let loose in the country is threatening her and Tadg Bere’s lives.
Once in America life is anything but straightforward as the violence from home follows the young pair across the Atlantic.
Lilly soon finds herself alone and trying to make a life for herself. A life that will be filled with love, loss, friendships and betrayals. A life that will somehow forever be touched by the wars men find themselves caught up in.
I could give a lot more detail about this story, but I don’t think I should. One of the pleasures in reading this book is discovering how Lilly finds her way through life. How she ends up where she is, mourning the loss of her grandson.
Lilly tells her story with great detachment. She rarely dwells on emotions and I found myself reading between the lines to get to feelings that lay below the apparently dispassionate narration.
Because of this detachment it took me a while to get really involved in the story. I think I was about a quarter into the book before I found myself caring about Lilly and what was happening to her. But once I did I found it increasingly hard to put the book down. From not really being interested at all I had gone to being completely invested in Lilly’s life and the resilience of this character.
As Barry takes the reader on a journey through almost a century of history and changes in the world, he also shows the reader how little some things change. History repeats itself time and again until, at last, it’s just too much for even the strongest human spirit to endure.
This is a book I needed to reflect upon for a while once I finished it. Its beautiful and understated tone almost hides the poignancy in its words. Almost, but not quite.
“That they wouldn’t allow us to cross into Canaan, but would follow us over the river and kill him on Canaan’s side. The land of refuge itself.”
“We may be immune to typhoid, tetanus, chickenpox, diphtheria, but never memory. There is no inoculation against that.”
“It is possible that no one can tell you anything that you don’t already know. The brain, some part of the brain has picked up the information already, but not the ‘top’ brain, not the bit that thinks it knows things.”
Friday, November 25, 2011
AUTHOR: GERARD O’DONOVAN
Details: no. 2 DI Mike Mulcahy & Siobhan Fallon
Reviewed for BookGeeks
“A drug deal gone bad.
A daughter gone missing.
A hitman on the loose.
And five days to find the answers.”
Journalist Siobhan Fallon is still recovering from the events in The Priest, when she’s send to Cork to cover the funeral of a formally successful estate agent who has committed suicide in England.
What at first appears to be a complete non-story becomes more interesting when she is approached by a woman who is worried about her missing daughter who was supposed to be with the deceased man in England.
At the same time, in Dublin, DI Mike Mulcahy and his team are gathering information about a known gangster and drug dealer on behalf of the Spanish police, who are trying to solve the man’s murder in Spain. The team is also looking into a massive drugs haul on a yacht off the coast of Cork.
Curious, Siobhan travels to Bristol to find out more about the estate agent’s suicide and the missing woman, only to find no trace of the later as well as discrepancies in the travel documents of the man.
At the same time more underworld figures are being killed, both in England and in Ireland.
When Mulcahy and Fallon get together and compare notes, strange coincidences soon turn into a sinister plot.
With a gunman on the loose, determined to kill anybody who knows his secret, the detective and the journalist have only five days to tie all the lose ends together and prevent more deaths.
This is an enjoyable thriller, with an intriguing plot and connections where you wouldn’t expect any.
In books like this you just know that what appear to be unconnected events will in all likelihood turn out to be connected. However, in this book it was completely unclear how that could possibly be the case for quite a while. In fact I found myself wondering once or twice whether the author would succeed in delivering believable connections, and was delighted to find that he did.
I did however find the book a bit slow to start. I think it took me to about half way through the book to pick up on any sense of urgency. Once I did get that sensation though, I couldn’t stop turning the pages, and found myself racing through the second part of the book to find out how it would all link up, who the killer actually was and how it was all going to end.
Parts of the final solution came as a complete surprise to me, which is always good in a thriller, and turned this book into a more satisfying read than I thought it was going to be.
I do have a bit of a problem believing that any policeman would ever co-operate with a journalist in the way described in this book. Since this plot device does work very well, I’m prepared to dispel my disbelieve on that front though.
I feel that this book flowed better than its prequel did and think that O’Donovan is hitting his stride. If there is going to be a third book in this series, and I hope there will be, I will definitely get myself a copy. I’ve got a feeling that these books will only get better and better.
Monday, November 21, 2011
AUTHORS: DAVID S. GOYER & MICHAEL CASSUTT
Details: No. 1 Heaven’s Trilogy
ARC received from BookGeeks
In 2016 an object is spotted in the sky over the South Pole. It is one hundred kilometres across and heading for earth.
In 2019 two manned space crafts are racing towards the Near Earth Object, dubbed Keanu, one from the USA and one from a Brazilian-Russian-Indian coalition. Both crews want to be the first to set foot on this unknown object.
The NASA team is lead by Zack Stewart who has lost his wife three years previously and has left his teenage daughter, Rachel, behind on Earth to follow developments from NASA headquarters.
Zack’s team manages to land first, but the coalition craft is close behind, and shortly after both landings explosions on the “NEO” injure one astronaut and push the object directly into Earth’s orbit.
Close inspection shows that the explosions were no accident. The object was pushed into Earth’s orbit on purpose, but by whom and why.
And this is not the last surprise the two crews have to face. As they start the explore Keanu they come face to face with wonder upon wonder. Some of these are delightful, while others are horrific while all of them are mysterious and inexplicable.
As the two crews find themselves having to work together, tough decisions will have to be made and survival is far from certain.
I am not, and never have been, very good at or very interested in science. And that is probably the reason I haven’t read a lot of Science-Fiction either, although I do enjoy the occasional Fantasy.
I therefore don’t think I’m qualified to judge this book on its scientific content or to compare it with other books in this genre.
I am however a reader and like to think I’m capable of recognising a good story when I read one. And this was a thrilling reading experience from the first to the last page.
Fast-paced, action packed and full of twists and turns, this book had me turning the pages at a frantic pace, desperate to find out what was going on, and how it could possibly end in anything other than disaster.
I liked the way a lot of chapters start with “quotes” from online message boards on which the public reacts to what they are told about what is going on during this mission. And although I have my doubts as to whether strict adherence to rules would be disregarded with an ease as described in this book, it did make the story a lot more interesting. And to be fair, it is impossible to know how anyone would react if the events described in this book actually did happen.
I am not surprised to learn that both authors of this book are script-writers and film-producers. The chapters in this book felt a bit like scenes and the pace of the story did not leave a lot of room for in-depth character development. However, neither of these “issues” spoilt the story for me, or my reading enjoyment.
I find myself slightly surprised to say that I will be keeping an eye out for parts two and three in this trilogy. I may not be a huge fan of Science-Fiction but I certainly want to read them and find out how it is all going to end.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
AUTHOR: MICHAEL CONNELLY
Details: No. 17 Harry Bosch
Harry Bosch is working in the Open-Unsolved Unit, where cases dating back up to 50 years are re-examined whenever new evidence warrants such action.
When a DNA hit comes back giving the name of a possible suspect to an unsolved rape-murder of a young girl more than 20 years ago, it appears to be a slam-dunk at first glance. However, a closer look at the evidence shows that, although Clayton Pell, the person identified, is a convicted rapist and seems to fit the crime quite well, something has to be wrong. At the time of the crime, Pell was only eight years old, which makes it unlikely if not impossible, that he committed the crime.
Bosch and his partner David Chu have only started trying to figure out how the DNA evidence could point to a juvenile when they are handed a second case.
They are to investigate the death of a man who fell from a hotel window. This should be a straight-forward investigation were it not for the fact that Bosch was asked to conduct it by his long-time nemesis Irvin Irving. It was council man Irving’s son who fell to his death and Irving insists that he only trusts Bosch to conduct a fair investigation.
Bosch knows that this second investigation is more about politics than about policing and can’t understand why a man who has spend years trying to undermine him now wants him to investigate his son’s death. But because “everybody counts or nobody counts” he takes on the case and gives it his best.
Facing both a serial killer who may have gone undetected for over 30 years on the one case and a political mine-field where it is unclear who is manipulating who on the other, Harry finds himself questioning his wish to stay in the police force for as long as he possibly can.
This is Michael Connelly at his best. While I enjoy all of his books, I have to admit that Harry Bosch is my favourite character of his. Bosch’s integrity equals his disregard for rules and politics and his “lone wolf” approach to investigations is as understandable as it is infuriating. The mysteries in this book are as well plotted as any in Connelly’s books, with twists and turns that leave the reader guessing and solutions that are both credible and infuriating. Connelly doesn’t give the reader an idealised version of police work. He shows us a harsh reality where the best intentions won’t always lead to the right outcomes through a character who is well aware of the faults in the system but still prepared to give it the best he’s got.
Connelly is steering Harry Bosch towards a retirement date in the not too distant future, and this reader will be shedding a few tears when the moment comes for her favourite detective to hand in his badge.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
AUTHOR: GUY ADAMS
Details: Received from and reviewed for BookGeeks
The book starts with Hilary De Montfort, leaving his club after a lucky evening gambling, on to be seen a short while later, desperately running away from something only he can see. When his crushed body is discovered in the middle of a London square it is unclear who or what may have killed him.
Shortly afterwards Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are visited by Dr. John Silence who tells them a strange story about a possessed little girl. A story that fails to convince Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes is fascinated by De Montfort’s death though and when soon afterwards another man, who belonged to the same occult society, also dies under very mysterious circumstances, Holmes interest is peaked.
Soon Silence, Watson and Holmes find themselves on a train to Inverness to consult with Aleister Crowley. While on the train Watson finds himself witnessing a very distressing supernatural phenomenon which turns out to be the first of many.
Once in Inverness, Holmes goes of to conduct investigations on his own, while Watson travels with Silence and Thomas Carnacki, supernatural investigator, to Crowley’s house where they are also joined by Julian karswell, a runic expert. Crowley seems to be under nightly attacks from supernatural forces and Watson soon finds himself not only converted into believing in the supernatural, but also joining forces with the other men to fight the horrors they face.
When Holmes joins the men in Crowley’s estate they decide that the real threat lies in London, which may face a supernatural attack on the very start of the twentieth century. Will these 6 men be able to stop the forces of evil, or is there, after all, a logical explanation for everything Watson has been experiencing?
This was a fascinating excursion into the world of Sherlock Holmes. Guy Adams has stayed close enough to Conan Doyle’s original way of telling the stories to make this a very plausible addition. At the same time, he takes things one step further than the creator of Sherlock Holmes used to do. This is one mystery where logic will not explain all, where even Holmes has to admit that there may be things even he can’t quite rationalise, or can he? Watson and the reader are left wondering what exactly did and did not happen, although Holmes does supply an explanation even for that.
I think I might have enjoyed this book more if I had been familiar with the stories in which Silence, Carnacki and Karswell originated. I probably missed out on some references that would have been obvious to people with such familiarity. That lack in background information didn’t lessen my reading enjoyment though. I read this story in a single day and almost in a single sitting in what was a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.
TITLE: THE NEXT ALWAYS
AUTHOR: NORA ROBERTS
Details: no. 1 The Inn at Boonsboro Trilogy
The Montgomery family of Boonsboro is in the middle of restoring the historic hotel there into a bed & breakfast. The three brothers together with their mother have great plans for the place, modernising the place while keeping and restoring all its historical features.
Beckett Montgomery is the architect in the family and the hotel is the major project in his life. It’s not the only one though. He also has his eye on a woman he has had feelings for since he was a teenager.
Clare Brewster is a young army widow with three young sons, who runs the bookshop across the street from the hotel. With her life filled to over-flowing with home, work and her young family, a new relationship is the last thing on her mind. But her curiosity about the restoration project soon brings her closer to Beckett, and the possibility of a new and unimagined future. But the path to happiness isn’t a smooth one, and Clare and Beckett will have to overcome some obstacles before their future together can be secured.
This is Nora Roberts as I love her. A story filled with interesting and strong characters, romance, danger and even a ghost; what’s not to love?
Considering that Roberts books are in fact highly predictable and closely resembling each other, it seems amazing that I continue to love her books as much as I do. I can only contribute that to the fact that Robert’s romances always feature characters I would love to know in real life. She has a way of drawing the reader in with clever conversation and interesting surroundings.
And this book has an added attraction.
Although all the characters in this book are fictional, the setting is real, as is the Inn which has indeed been restored and opened by Nora Roberts herself and a friend. The love the author has for this place is obvious on the pages of this book, and gives an added depth to this story.
As always, I really want to read the rest of this trilogy as soon as possible, and resent the fact that I’ll have to wait about a year before the next one will be out.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
AUTHOR: DERMOT BOLGER
When 16 year old Joey starts in a new school, he’s nervous about how he will be welcomed. He left his last school because of bullying, and is afraid that he could be put through that hell again. But when he looks behind him before entering the class-room for the first time, he sees a friendly looking boy behind him, and suddenly he’s not so scared anymore. He also notices a beautiful girl with black hair who smiles at him when she notices him in the doorway but looks away as soon as she spots the boy behind him.
Before long Joey and Shane, the boy who stood behind him that first day, are close friends, and initially Joey is delighted with this friendship. It isn’t long though before Shane’s behaviour starts to worry Joey. And if Shane is such a nice guy, why should black haired Geraldine avoid him at all costs, convinced he is evil? And then there is the old man, Thomas, who seems to know everything about Shane, Joey, Geraldine and their histories and families.
Joey soon realises that something is very wrong, but exactly what is happening is stranger, scarier and more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.
This is a rather creepy but wonderful story. Dealing with friendship, love, death, betrayal and trust, both the characters and the reader are taken on a rollercoaster ride through emotions, believe and disbelieve.
As the story is told in turn by several of the main characters, a dark picture slowly emerges. The truth of what exactly is going on is so strange and sinister that, while the characters in the book can’t quite believe it, the reader will not be able to completely anticipate it although the clues are there from the first page.
I liked that this book was about more than just keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. Although Dermot Bolger succeeded very well in creeping me out, he also managed to portrait the power of human kindness and honesty.
This is a young adult book that treats its readers as adults and doesn’t spell everything out in detail, forcing the reader to use their own imagination which makes the story even scarier than it would otherwise be.
In short, this is a good and fascinating page-turner.
Monday, November 14, 2011
AUTHOR: CHARLES LAMBERT
Detail: Reviewed for BookGeeks
In 1983 Alex is asked by his mentor and lover Bruno to hold on to a few bags for him for a few days. When Alex returns to Bruno’s place after taking the bags to his own apartment he finds Bruno murdered and mutilated. Scared, Alex decides he has to get rid of the bags, which turn out to contain photo’s, and sells them to a young photographer.
In a plot line that initially appears unrelated, a young girl, who is not named, is kidnapped at an unidentified time for reasons that are unclear to her and the reader.
In 2008, Andrew Caruso owner of a second hand bookshop in Rome finds some bags which used to belong to a lover of his who died, apparently by suicide, years ago. The bags contain mug-shots, photos of crime-scenes and other photographs, clearly from police archives. In honour of his former lover Andrew decides to show the photographs in an exhibition, but shortly before the show is due to open official looking men enter Andrew’s place, confiscate everything they can find and take Andrew away to an unknown destination.
Why are these photographs so sensitive after all these years, who is afraid of having them shown in public, and how will Andrew get himself out of this mess he unwittingly landed himself into?
This is a literary thriller if ever I read one. Yes, the story features murder, unexplained deaths and kidnapping, but they are not the main points of interest for the author. Charles Lambert is far more interested in the inner lives of his characters, their thoughts, feelings and lifestyles.
Set in the gay scene in Rome, this book pictures a rather seedy community where love is often not the main reason for people being together and where most are looking after number one. However, it is also a place where the few real friends you have will do almost anything to help you and where acts of unselfishness stand out a mile.
Anyone reading the blurb on the back of the book would expect to be landed in the middle of the action almost immediately upon opening it, which is not the case. The lead up to the raid on Andrew’s place takes about half the book. However, that lead up is well used by the author to establish the characters and to give the reader some clues as to what may or may not be going on with the photos. This leads to the reader having an advantage over the characters in the book, but only a slight one. And by the time the book ends, this is still the case. Not all questions are conclusively answered by the author. Some interpretations are left up to the reader, which pleased me because it gave the story a realistic feel which is often missing from the thrillers I read.
A fascinating book, if a bit off the beaten track, which had me thinking about the story for some time after I finished reading it.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
AUTHOR: RODDY DOYLE
Details: Juvenile Fiction 12-14
From the back of the book:
Scarlett, Mary, Tansey, Emer.
Mothers and daughters heading off on a car journey.
One of them dead,
one of them dying,
one of them driving,
one of them just beginning.
They’re going back to the past on a matter of life and death.
Mary is twelve and she hates the hospital. She hates everything about it, except for one thing, her granny.
Mary’s granny Emer is in hospital afraid to close her eyes in case she’ll never open them again while unable to stay awake.
Mary visits her granny everyday together with her mother, Scarlett. The visits aren’t easy, but both mother and daughter love granny deeply, so they keep on going and keep on making the same jokes.
Then one day on her way home from school Mary meets a confusing woman. The woman seems to appear out of nowhere and is young although she makes an old impression. Mary feels she should be afraid of this woman, but she isn’t because somehow the woman, whose name is Tansey, seems familiar.
When the ties between the four women are revealed, they go on a road trip together. For one of them it will be the last trip she ever makes, for one of them it’s the first trip in about eighty years and for two of them it will make the loss they’ll have to face a little bit less hard.
This is a charming book and a heart-warming tale. It is a ghost story without the scares, a coming of age story without the drama and a tale about love and loss without forced sentimentality.
At times funny and at times sad this story is inspired from start to finish.
Mary is a feisty, charming and completely life-like character who I couldn’t help but love, both in her cheeky and in her not-cheeky moments. But then she descends from a line of strong and loving women.
This is a book that will be enjoyed by young teenagers as much as by adults, although they may have different reasons for loving the story.
Roddy Doyle has once again succeeded in writing a simple yet evocative tale, a story that will stay with the reader for a long time.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century
EDITED BY: DECLAN BURKE
Details Non-Fiction (mostly)
Irish crime writing is a recent phenomenon. While there have been great and internationally acknowledged Irish authors for a much longer time, crime was until recently a subject that authors more or less ignored.
Down These Green Streets explores why crime was ignored by Irish authors for such a long time, and why it has recently exploded into our bookshops.
A large number of Irish crime writers and journalists explore the reasons for this change in the fortunes of Irish crime writing. Through essays, interviews, short stories and personal testimonies, the reader learns how Ireland’s troubled past inhibited crime writing, the differences between crime writing in the North and South of the Island, how various authors go about putting their stories together and why they do it that way as well as a history of development of the genre in Ireland.
For someone who enjoys their mysteries, thrillers and crime novels as much as I do, this is a priceless collection of information. I honestly think that as an overview of Irish crime writing, past and present, you won’t find a better or more complete compendium than this book. My only “complaint” would be that this book showed me how many authors I still need to pick up for the first time, how much I have managed to miss out on.
This is probably not a book to be read from cover to cover as I just did. Ideally, this is a book to own and dip in and out of as the mood or curiosity strikes. I fully intend to buy a copy of this book so that I can go back to it when I’m looking for a new Irish crime author to try or for more information about an author I happen to be reading.
On a personal note, I had one very happy surprise while reading Andrew Nugent’s essay in this book. On page 298 he writes:
“Once again, it is a blog-reviewer who expresses the point very accurately. I only have her first name, Meen, and I know that she is Dutch, and lives in
Meen writes of my murder mysteries:
“These books are not exactly police procedurals, even if the investigators are members of the Gardai. The author is more interested in human relationships than investigative procedures.”
She is kind enough to add, ‘and for me, this really works’ and to say encouragingly, ‘I’m already looking forward to the next one.’”
There I am, in a coffee shop, eating a bit of lunch while reading this book and suddenly I’ve got a big grin on my face, softly saying to myself, “that’s me, that’s my blog. My blog is being quoted in a published book!”
If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m still grinning about it and still can’t quite believe it. And of course this means that I will have to buy a copy of this book sooner rather than later. But, since I can see myself returning to this book time and again anyway, that won't be a hardship.
And just in case you find yourself wondering; yes, I would still have given this book the same rating if I hadn’t been mentioned in it.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
AUTHOR: KAREN MARIE MONING
Details: no. 1 Fever Series
Reviewed for BookGeeks
MacKayla (Mac) Lane is 22 years old and has a good life in Ashford, Georgia. Living with her parents, she has a job in a bar and studies part-time. She rarely faces more difficult decisions than what to wear today, and what colour her nails should be, with her biggest worry being that her favourite colour will be discontinued. That all changes when she receives word that her sister Alina has been murdered in Dublin, where she had been studying in Trinity College.
Devastated and heartbroken Mac travels to Ireland to find out what exactly happened to her sister, and who killed her since it seems that the local police is not getting anywhere with the investigation.
As soon as Mac arrives in Dublin her live changes. She finds that she is seeing monsters around her; monsters that other people don’t seem to be able to see. And it isn’t long before she discovers that she isn’t what or who she thought she was either.
Mac finds herself in a world where the Fae are mixing with humans, using them before killing them. And Mac is a Sidhe-seer, one of only a few who can see and recognize the Fae for what they are.
A voicemail message Alina left her, sends Mac searching for something called the Sinsar Dubh, although she has no idea what it is or why she is looking for it.
When she meets Jericho Barrons they are at odds with each other from the start. But it soon becomes apparent that if Mac wants to find her answers and to stay alive she will need Barrons. And, it turns out that Mac has certain powers that are very useful for Barrons too.
But with the Fae slowly invading Dublin and taking whole parts of the city literally off the map, Barrons and Mac are in constant danger.
In many ways this is yet another addition to the paranormal fiction that seems to be flooding the market at the moment. We have a heroine who is, on the surface, completely unsuited to the task she has been set, forced to work together with a dangerous and potentially untrustworthy ally who also happens to be attractive. Throw in opponents who are not from this world and can appear both monstrous and gorgeous but are deadly in both guises and you can’t help feeling that you’ve been there before.
However, this is also a very enjoyable read. Mac is a mostly interesting main character and it’s nice to see her growing into something more than the super visual girl she starts of as.
For me personally the fact that the story is set in Dublin added a lot to the attraction because I know the places the story was taking place in.
At times the contrast between Mac’s innocence and Barrons’ selfish cynicism seemed a bit too much like a stereotype to me, but overall I got hooked into the story and found myself compulsively turning the pages, wanting to find out what would happen next.
And books that come with sentences like: “I love books, by the way, way more than movies. Movies tell you what to think. A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourself. (…) My imagination has always topped anything a movie could come up with” can’t be all bad.
I’ve got a feeling that I will probably read the sequels to this book, if only to find out where else in Ireland this story will take Mac and the reader.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
AUTHOR: AGATHA CHRISTIE
Details: No. 36 Hercule Poirot Mystery
During the preparations for a Halloween party a young girl, Joyce, proclaims that she once saw a murder done. Nobody believes the girl, even though she insists it’s true, and the preparations for the party are finished without anyone paying anymore attention to the girl’s statement.
Later that evening, after the party has taken place and everybody is going home again, young Joyce is found, drowned in the bucket that was used for apple bobbing.
Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, an author of mysteries and friend of Hercule Poirot, was present when the girl made her bold statement and turns to the Belgian detective for help. She convinced that the girl was murdered because of the statement she made, and she feels guilty because she also thinks that Joyce said what she did to impress her.
Poirot is intrigued and travels to Woodleigh Common to investigate and before long he stumbles upon other unsolved deaths, cases of forgery and disappearances although for a long time they all appear to be unrelated to each other.
By the time it all becomes clear to Poirot another child has died and a third one is in mortal danger.
It has been a very long time since I last read a book by Agatha Christie. When I was a teenager she was my introduction to adult mysteries as well as the first author I read in English and it was nice to get reacquainted with her and Poirot after so many years.
This is of course a typical Christie mystery. A relative small cast of suspects, a village filled with gossip and people with dubious motives and secrets to hide and enough clues to help Poirot solve the case but not quite enough for the reader to do the same.
Having said that, I had part of the mystery solved as soon as a particular character was introduced and other answers seemed self-evident, although that may be the result of years of reading mysteries.
I enjoyed this return to the world of Agatha Christie and her characters and now that the library where I work has a shelf full of her books, I think I’ll be reading more of her mysteries in months to come.