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Friday, March 30, 2012

Copying the List

At the Senior Center, where I work part time, I edit and produce a regular newsletter.  Each month, I compile elder news around town, including the book topic for the Second Friday Book Group.  Once the group moderator gives me the title, I look it up online so I can write a one sentence snippet for readers.  Nice way to get fodder for my own reading list, don’t you think?

April’s book is called Faithful Place, by Tana French, her third mystery, which features a detective from Dublin, who ends up investigating the cold case murder of a former girlfriend.  After perusing the Amazon blurb, I was intrigued, but my personal book budget has been cut and the library copies of Faithful Place were all checked out by the reading group.

So…I took out Tana French’s first book, called In the Woods instead.  It took me several days to get through the brief prologue, to the point where I wondered if I’d actually finish the book.  Once I waded through those few brief pages though, French reeled me in with the depth of her description and the power of her dueling story lines.

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner are assigned the case of a young girl’s murder, which coincidentally happens in the town where Rob grew up, from which his two best friends disappeared when he was twelve-years-old.  Rob, who was with his friends when they vanished, has no memory of what happened that day.  As the detectives attempt to solve the current crime, Rob tries to transport himself back to scenes from his past in order to gain insight into the yet unsolved mystery from his youth. 
Via sensory-assaulting description, skulking suspense, and plot twists that keep the reader guessing, French had me turning pages way past my bedtime.  While the author ties up the current mystery, other story lines are left hanging, a sort of nod to real life that lends to the credibility of her tale.

As soon as I finished In the Woods, I went back to the library.  I’m still out of luck with Faithful Place, so I check out French’s second book, The Likeness, which like book number one, I am struggling to put down. 

In this story, after leaving the Murder Squad, Cassie Maddox, Rob Ryan’s partner from In the Wood is pulled back into a murder case, when a victim using an undercover alias from Cassie’s past and who looks enough like Cassie to be her identical twin, is discovered in an abandoned famine hut.  Rather than release the news of the murder, the police concoct a serious injury, and after an imaginary hospital stay, introduce Cassie into the life and role of the murdered woman.  I’m about half way through this one, turning the pages and saying out loud; “No, don’t do it!” to the MC as the author ratchets up the tension and inches the stakes higher. As with with In the Woods, I’m chasing after the final outcome of The Likeness the way a cat goes after a string, and if you’d like to know why, catch this little snippet from the beginning of the book:

Somewhere in the house, faint as a fingernail-flick at the edge of my hearing, there are sounds: a scuffle, whispers.  It almost stops my heart.  The others aren’t gone.  I got it all wrong somehow.  They’re only hiding; they’re still here, for ever and ever.

I follow the tiny noises through the house room by room, stopping at every step to listen, but I’m never quick enough; they slide away like mirages, just behind that door or up those stairs.   The tip of a giggle, instantly muffled; a creak of wood.    I leave wardrobe doors swinging open, I take the steps three at a time, I swing round the newel post at the top and catch a flash of movement in the corner of my eye; the spotted old mirror at the end of the corridor, my face reflected in it laughing.

By the time I finish reading The Likeness, Faithful Place should be available to me…and I have no doubt that the circles under my eyes from late night reading will continue to attest to Tana French’s imagination and talent.

Oh, by the way, no one asked me to review these books and I'm getting nothing from it.  

What’s the best book you’ve read lately…and what made it so good?


Words A Day said...

You'll love Faithful Place, its a real page turner too! If you enjoy Tana French you'll love Louise Phillips (of 120 Socks blog), she's a friend of mine and her book - Red Ribbons is out soon:)

Jan Morrison said...

I loved In the Woods! So captivating. I'll read these others too. Right now I'm reading Peter Carey's Olivier & Parrot and loving it.

Lydia Kang said...

Here's to dark under-eye circles due to great books!

mshatch said...

Just finished Jim Butcher's first harry Dresden novel which was wicked good fun and am in the middle of THE NIGHT CIRCUS which is amazing and beautifully written. Also read THE TIGER'S WIFE - I was on vacation - which was very good as well but made me jealous because the author is like young enough to be my daughter!!! Obviously I need to practice more.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, sounds really good!
I kind of felt that way with a recent YA novle I won on Goodreads. Every chapter ended on a hook and I HAD to find out what would happen or what was going on.

Carol Kilgore said...

I keep hearing good things about Tana French. I need to read these, I think.

Happy Weekend!

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Sounds like some good stuff. What a wonderful way to help out your senior friends.
I will read almost anything I can get my hands on! A good one I read recently is 'Her Fearful Symmetry' by Audrey Niffenegger. She also wrote 'Time Traveler's Wife'. I liked her 'Symmetry' book better. It wasn't so weird and yet still had some haunting moments. I liked the balance between knowing things were not going to be perfect and yet enjoying the ethereal qualities of the story. Somehow it was all believable.

Old Kitty said...

Sounds like a great series! This is where I get annoyed with the "grab your reader at the first word/sentence/para" when some books truly begin like 20 pages into the story!

Take care

~Sia McKye~ said...

I haven't read this author. I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for introducing me to another good author, Liza. :-)


Helen Ginger said...

This sounds like one I wouldn't read by a lamp in the dark house, alone!

missing moments said...

It sounds good ...I'll have to check the author out!