WOW! I am going to have a lot of fun reading in January and February! Nine books here and a few more that I have already mentioned. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! -- Well, except on the days we are traveling.
"The four friends walked to the edge and peered down. All of them were suddenly aware that nothing in life is ever quite as it seems when you are planning it. This hole right now looked deeper, darker, more like - well- a grave, actually."
If any of you know me and follow my Instagram you'll know that this is completely the opposite of what I would normally read. It's quite strange really, I love watching a good murder mystery or thriller on TV or film but not to read. My assistant manage at work was reading this and told me about it, she absolutely loved it and told me the premise: a groom is buried in the woods as a prank on his stag do and the only people who know where he is are involved in a car wreck...except for Mark. Mark is the one person who should know where the stag is but remains adamant he knows nothing.
It was quite surreal reading this book as it was set in Brighton and the surrounding West Sussex area, which is where I live. It was so weird reading a book with a location I'm so familiar with. This book was race against time than finding a murder, which made it feel more fast paced. A real sense of urgency.
The narrative switches from several characters so the pace of this book ticks over nicely, it never really slows. I was expecting this book to be from Detective Grace's point of view the whole time, so it was welcome surprise that it jumped around. This book constantly feeds you different bits of information from different people with so many twists and turns. It was brilliant. Serval times whilst reading this it had me literally shouting on my lunch break, although I did guess a lot of the story. But for me it didn't make any difference, it was such a great book.
There is so much I want to say about this book, but spoilers. In summary, it's a lot like a Dan Brown book. In the sense that it's fast paced, full of twists and turns and switches from character to character. For those of you who are uncomfortable about reading a character buried alive not much time is spent with him, and when it is he tends to pass out or falls asleep.
P.D. James' estate has gone back to the well for this second annual book of short stories in time for Christmas sales, and I for one am very glad they did. There's variety in tone and setting amongst the six stories, but they have in common James' clear prose, strong sense of character, and the "twist in the tail" that is one of the delights of this genre. Of the six, four are told in the first person, a good expedient for twists, since the narrator merely has to withhold one pertinent piece of information. Several (including the most shudder-inducing, "The Girl Who Loved Graveyards" - interestingly not one of the 1st-person ones) are tied closely to the viewpoint of a child or youth, and often are distanced from the actual telling by the lifetime of that person. Moral ambiguity abounds; there are comeuppances, but we are not allowed to rest in simple notions of good characters and bad characters, even within the narrow bounds of short fiction.
All of the stories are comfortably distanced from us in time (two are explicitly set in World War II, with all the accompanying paraphernalia of blackouts and the hovering menace of much greater disturbance than a mere country house murder or clifftop shove). No-one is distressingly poor, distressingly foreign, or distressingly gender-atypical. In this sense, but in no other, you might stretch the term "cozy" to cover these stories. I don't find some of the characters - most particularly the murderer in the aforementioned "Girl Who Loved Graveyards" to be in any way cozy or comfortable, but it's true that, the subtitle notwithstanding, this collection not only did not rob me of sleep, but sent me off happy and satisfied with another taste of P.D. James.
Published by: Orion (2nd August 2007 -reprint)
Susan and John Carter are crazy about each other and life is perfect but for one thing - they are on the brink of financial disaster. Surely being a surrogate mother to another man's child won't harm such a strong relationship? Especially when the mysterious Mr Sarotzini is offering to save their home and business - everything they've worked for.
What seems to be a perfect solution begins to feel like an impossible situation. Susan's pregnancy is disturbingly painful but no-one will tell her why. It becomes apparent that Sarotzini wields immense power and Susan begins to doubt everything she knows. As she realises the terrifying origin of the dark forces Sarotzini controls she is in fear for herself and John but most of all for her unborn baby ...
What seems like the perfect solution to the Carter's financial problems is the central theme of this horrific tale. Cleverly written, with dark characters and terrifying, grotesque attention to detail, the couple's involvement with the mysterious Satotzini and Susan's ensuing pregnancy are described in meticulous detail. Susan's dreams, in particular, a hard image to shake from the mind.
Although this book is gruesome in parts, I was utterly compelled to keep reading. I had to find out what happened to Susan and her baby. I picked this book up in the hospital as I had nothing with me to read and a long wait ahead. I thought I might be mildly entertained, perhaps pass the few hours, I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so gripping! I've read a couple of books by the author in the past, although not for some time. Why I've not read more, I'm not sure, but I'll definitely be reading more of his work in the future!
I was looking forward to reading this book. My career required me to be aware of and fluent in different criminal gangs. I always found motorcycle gangs to be of the most interesting variety. Thus, a chance to get insight into the "Outlaws" appealed to me very much.
Unfortunately, this isn't the book for that. The writing is terrible. Hard to follow, disjointed, it reads like someone with ADD wrote it. The author will start one story, morph it into another unrelated story, or worse yet, just drop it midway through.
The book is seriously in need of a major rewrite. Disappointing!