Crime, Thrillers & Mystery
Got a book recommendation you are willing to share? Please let us know - either face-to-face or via e-mail:
- Webmaster Deacon Mark
The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
You would think that four elderly people who live in a retirement village and who meet together every Thursday to solve murders would be highly implausible. At the hands of your average novelist this would be so. But Richard is a consummate author. His chapters are short enabling the pace to be kept up throughout. Some of the chapters are written through the eyes of Joyce, one of the four main characters. This provides a clear insight into her character but gives the reader a different perspective of the plot. You can imagine Richard having a smile on his face as he writes his books as there is so much humour within them. However, the most satisfying aspect is that at the end of each book there are no unanswered questions, no debatable points and the mysteries within each book leave the reader comfortable with the outcomes.
One does not have be in one’s dotage to enjoy these novels. Our 40 year old daughter recommended The Thursday Murder Club to me. Most younger people will have elderly relatives who they will be able to see in either Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim or Ron. The books are written for a wide demographic. Having enjoyed the first book, it was an immense comfort to find the same characters in The Man Who Died Twice, which is one of the best books I have ever read.
Richard gave up his television appearances on Pointless to concentrate on his writing as there are another two Books in the series. In fact the third, The Bullet That Missed, has now been published and I am hoping Santa will put it in my stocking this Christmas.
House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
This is a very strange book. It is difficult to describe because it is written in different layers. There are stories within stories. At the core is a narrative about a photojournalist, Navidson, his wife and children who move into a very peculiar house. This house seems to exist in more than three dimensions. It is larger on the inside than the outside and has long corridors that seem to stretch into infinity. Part of the book is a description of a film made by Navidson of an “expedition” into the house. The next layer is a critique of this film by an elderly blind man, Zampano, now deceased. The third layer is the story of a young man, Johnny Truant, who finds and reads the film critique and whose life is affected by what he reads (even though he knows that the film does not exist and the critique is entirely fictitious).
The book itself is written in different typefaces to represent the different narrative layers. The script and page layout reflects the changes in structure of the house. The words may be written normally, upside-down, sideways, back-to-front etc. The word “house” is always written in blue ink. Johnny’s story is written entirely in footnotes.
House of leaves is a compelling read, although ultimately unsatisfying, as it seems to just fade away rather come to an end.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
This is a rare gem of a book. It is an intelligent science fiction novel about humanity’s first contact with an alien race. In addition it is a book which will make you re-examine your faith. The main character is a Catholic Priest, Fr Emilio Sandoz, who travels with friends and colleagues on a Vatican funded mission to a planet called Rakhat, orbiting Alpha Centuri. As he explores the new planet, he explores his own relationship with God and with his fellow travellers. When disaster strikes the mission he is left with intolerable questions about the nature of God’s will.
The Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
The Children of God is the sequel to science fiction novel The Sparrow. Once you have read The Sparrow it is inevitable that you will follow on with this book. The two books form one continuous narrative. The Children of God tell the story of a follow up mission to the planet Rakhat. Contact with humanity has changed Rakhat society forever and has brought war to a peaceful planet. Emilio is reacquainted with friends that he thought were lost forever and is finally presented with some possible answers.
The Children of God lacks some of the urgency of the first volume and is a less polished novel. It does, however, bring the story to a more satisfying conclusion.