In Cold Blood

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Read 26/09/2017-06/10/2017

Rating: 4 stars

As I started this book, it felt like I knew the story already, and yet I didn’t. I had watched the film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, based on his experience writing the book, which has left me with a strange half knowledge.

It took a while for Capote’s writing style to gel for me. I’d come from volume 7 of The Sixth Gun (review to come), and prior to that had read Peter Carey’s memoir Wrong About Japan, both of which were punchy and fast flowing in their own ways. In Cold Blood starts off more melodramatic in tone. It made me think of those true crime TV programmes where re-enactments take place and a man with a sonorous voice intones the story over the top of the action. A bit like Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories, for readers in the UK.

As I settled into Capote’s style, though, I found myself gripped by the scenes he was setting. Continue reading

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The Maid’s Version

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Read 17/09/2017-20/09/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Road Trip Challenge

According to a quote from Roddy Doyle on the front cover of The Maid’s Version, Daniel Woodrell is one of the world’s greatest novelists. I hadn’t heard of him until Missouri came up on the US Road Trip Challenge and I was hunting around for a book set there or written by a local author. I discovered that he wrote Winter’s Bone, on which the film I’ve started watching a couple of times but never finished is based. My local library doesn’t have its own copy of Winter’s Bone, so I borrowed The Maid’s Version instead. I found the opening scenes of the film version of Winter’s Bone visually dark and grey, so I was expecting The Maid’s Version to be the same. I was wrong. It started muted but, as it progressed, there were bursts of colour. Continue reading

The Pelican Brief

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Read 20/07/2017-22/07/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Road Trip Challenge.

Every so often, because a lot of what I read can be classed as literary fiction and requires concentration, since it often draws on a wider literary context, I need to read what I think of as easy reading. Quite often, this takes the form of crime novels or thrillers, occasionally family sagas. Popular rather than literary fiction, the type of book you can pick up in a WHSmith shop at a train station or airport. I love this sort of fiction because it employs different skills. The author has to be able to hook the reader in quickly and maintain pace and human interest throughout the story.

The Pelican Brief is one of those books. Continue reading

The Dove’s Necklace

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Read 01/06/2017-18/06/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I don’t think I once fully understood what was going on in The Dove’s Necklace, but I can’t say I didn’t have fair warning. The opening sentence of the first part of the book begins:

The only thing you can know for certain in this entire book is where the body was found …

The body, that of a naked woman, is discovered in an alley known as the Lane of Many Heads. It’s the alley itself that narrates the story, introducing the main characters and commenting on their lives. Continue reading

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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Read 14/05/2017-17/05/2017

Rating: 2 stars

I’ve read both of Jonas Jonasson’s previous books. I really enjoyed The Hundred Year Old Man. I thought it was an inventive piece of fiction that had some nice moments of comedy and an affectionate warmth running through it. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden was less successful in its attempts to be inventive, but I found it entertaining enough. While it shared its satirical bent, I thought it lacked the warmth of The Hundred Year Old Man.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All didn’t completely do it for me, either. Continue reading