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review 2018-05-30 19:57
The Body Library - Jeff Noon
The Body Library - Jeff Noon

[...]a novel is a labyrinth; a labyrinth is a novel. That's a truth well hidden behind conventional narrative. But a certain kind of reader, we believed, would relish the challenge of this new book.

 

Well, Jeff Noon's The Body Library is by no means the most labyrinthine novel I've read, although it has a maze in form of a high-rise; nor is it the most challenging. It is, however, a satisfying genre-bender, offering a compelling mystery and some smart meta-discussion about stories and storytelling.

 

The year is 1959. After the events in A Man of Shadows, private eye John Nyquist has found shelter in the town of Storyville. Just like the name suggests, Storyville is a city made of many tales, supervised by the Narrative Council, which is situated at Kafka Court, because of course it is. Nyquists own story starts when he wakes up next to a dead man – a man he apparently has killed himself. The circumstances of this murder are quite mysterious, as the dead man has been the subject matter of Nyquist's latest investigation. Still confused, Nyquists begins to investigate the strange high-rise where he woke up and meets a woman, Zelda, a prostitute hired by the recently deceased. Soon both find themselves the target of other occupants. A man with a face of scars is looking for answers Nyquist can't give, a young boy is not as harmless as he seems, and something in the high-rise seems to be casting a spell. Nyquist and Zelda can get away, but lose all memory of what exactly happened to them. Soon after, Zelda winds up dead. It looks like suicide, but Nyquists suspects murder and pledges to find Zelda's killer. Meanwhile, the Narrative Council comes knocking and wants some information about a certain body in a certain high-rise... And that's really just the start of it.

 

Noon described The Body Library as an example of Avantgarde Pulp. It's a detective story in close embrace with the uncanny. I found it a more successful endeavour than it's predecessor. Nyquist second adventure is at the same time more and less classic noir, offering a stronger plot and stronger ties between plot and surrealism. Maybe it helped to finally have a sense of time: The events take place in an alternative 1959, something I didn't get from A Man of Shadows (it's possible I just missed it, but I don't think the year was ever mentioned in that book). The Body Library is also more Noonian (and if this isn't a word, it totally should be).

 

The hardboiled detective tropes are all in place, but convincingly executed: Nyquist is still the epitome of the noir private eye, taciturn, melancholy and into the ladies, and spends a good deal of the book being beaten up (and worse). But he gains some personality. His prime feature is his stubbornness: Once he's committed to a task, he just won't let go. Of course, a pulp story also needs a dame, some goons, an enigmatic femme who could be fatale. Star of the show is the city itself though, Storyville, where every life is a tale and every tale is alive, where the novelists spin stories and the taletellers deliver verbal accounts of adventures great and small, where whisper poets whisper and shadowy agencies specialise in erasure. In such a setting, it's no great surprise – and no spoiler – that the core of the mystery is a book, the titular The Body Library, and that its mystery is tied to avantgarde techniques of storytelling - like the cut-up technique, of which the title is just the first example.

 

Creating atmosphere and unforgettable pictures has always been Noon's strong suite, and here he delivers again. The Body Library is ripe with vivid images, from bodies crawling with words to glowing Alphabugs to pages seeping blood (here you can find a few pictures by Alex Storer inspired by this book. I think they complement it quite well). A story about stories is bound to become incredibly meta, and Noon uses this to great effect, too. He incorporates myths and legends and some nods to his older works; places wear the names of great writers and poets, the Narrative Council is a neat addition that Kafka would be proud of, and while seeing characters discussing their own fictionality is not entirely new, I find it always entertaining. And thus the book left me excited for whatever adventure Nyquist encounters next.

 

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review 2018-05-30 12:17
DNF: The Silent Corner
The Silent Corner - Dean Koontz

Not for me. Don't like the main character, plot is choppy and irritating enough to DNF at 6%, not interested in anymore. 

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review 2018-05-28 14:57
Dark Angel
DARK ANGEL a gripping crime thriller full of twists - HELEN H. DURRANT

I couldn't put this one down, I'm sorry it took me so long to start it! I've long been a fan of Helen H. Durrant's Calladine and Bayless books, but this is my first DI Greco. I can safely say this can be read as a standalone or an entry into the series, I wasn't lost at all, any prior references are explained enough that they're not a distraction.

 

First off, I have to say that Durrant is skilled in drawing in a reader completely into the world she creates, making the book so much more than a gripping mystery (as if that wasn't enough!), but also the frequently messy lives of the very compelling and realistic (if not flawed) characters. You end up with not only a thrilling case that keeps you turning pages, but also the can't-turn-away-train-wreck that is Greco's personal life. I like Greco, he's unemotional and methodical, traits that frequently cause problems with interpersonal relationships. Reading this, I was reminded Olympia Dukakis's line from Moonstruck ("Can I give you some advice? Don't s**t where you eat.") and boy, is that relevant to this book. Still, I felt for Greco, it was clear he was being pushed into something he didn't want and that never ends well.

 

But it's the case that takes front and center in the book, it got off to a running start with a body found at a music festival by a young woman before turning to the murders of two young men who got more than they bargained for when they burgled a house. The quick pace and many twists and turns kept me greedily turning page after page and that surprise ending left me gasping. An excellent read from start to finish, something I always expect from this author and definitely recommended for fans of gritty crime fiction.

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text 2018-05-25 21:23
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 453 pages.
The Dead House (Fiona Griffiths Crime Thriller Series) - Harry Bingham

so here’s how things are going to go:

 

yesterday, on a whim—well, cuz everyone else was doin’ it and I felt left out—I made a Summer Reading List. it was originally 20 books, but I topped it up to 30 choices, so there would be more Spy books (which is another trend around here these days). and, as of now, I’m going to commence reading from that List (so sorry to any books I own that didn’t get included with the 30–I guess you just aren’t “summer-y” enough).

 

first up...a trip to the Welsh countryside, via a very well-reviewed Mystery novel by an author I’m thrilled to finally get to. Happy Summer-List Reading—and any reading—friends!

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review 2018-05-15 19:12
A very VERY fitting end!
Sin and Tonic (Sinners #6) - Rhys Ford
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. And breathe! Deep breath, it's just a review, Debbie, you can do it! So! This is book 6 in the Sinners series and I would recommend that you at least read Sinners Gin (book 1) and Absinthe of Malice (book 5) before you read this one. You need to know about Miki and Kane from the beginning since this is the conclusion to their story. Actually, I take that back. Read them ALL, please! Not least because they are 4 and 5 stars reads from me, but because you need these boys in your life, you really do! Miki is falling apart, and someone is trying to kill him. He finds out his mother's and then his father's name, and all hell breaks loose! It's been a while (Dec 2016) since I read book 5 and I don't reread, but once I got going, it all comes back to you. Ford spins her tales like no other, and I LOVE her work. It just grabs you, and pulls you kicking and screaming, along for the very bumpy ride that Miki and Kane take you on! I loved that Miki was finally able to ask for help, because that was a hard fought battle with himself. I loved that he was calling Donal (Kane's father) Dad. oh! I just LOVED IT!!! Loved that I did not see who might be responsible for everything, until it was revealed in the book. Ford has a way of keeping you on your toes! Very VERY emotional in places, a little bit messy what with dead bodies and things, but so, so bloody awesome! I can't say much, cos of spoilers and things but read it! Read them ALL!! It's always sad, coming to the end of a MUCH loved series, but I *think* this actually might be my favourite of the whole series. And of course I want to LISTEN to this, because I really don't hear the voices right, and I NEEEEEEED Tristan James and the Morgan/Finnegan boys and girls in my ear one more time. So, a very VERY fitting end, and I LOVED the epilogue! And I love love LOVED that Miki was finally able to share Kane a little with the world, more specifically, how much Kane means to him. A Song For Kane So throw back the gates of hell, Pull me down the path I'd walked. Find me in the darkness, No matter if I balk. Sing me a son of redemption, Sing me a ballad of love and bliss. Remind of the Heaven, I found in our first kiss. Bravo, Ms Ford. 5 full and shiny stars but really, it deserves far more! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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