Saturday, February 12, 2011

Some Recent Reads

I have read more than I realized lately. Here are a few from the past month.

Half Broken Things
Morag Joss

Sad, sympathetic characters intersect in this story that builds suspense from the first page and you realize right away this is not going to end well. Yet you keep hoping for the best, because the protagonists are so hapless and wounded.

A middle aged woman who has spent most of her adult life house sitting with an impeccable history is on her last assignment, a luxurious country house in the English countryside. She is rapidly unraveling and the story builds as two others join her in a fantasy life. I could definitely see Judi Dench in a movie version.

The Distant Hours
Kate Morten

Kate Morten’s previous two books were great reads, really imaginative stories and well written. I found the formula is getting tired in this book about an eccentric writer, his three daughters and a mysterious connection with a modern day book editor. It starts out promising, but gets confusing before too long and leaves too many unanswered questions. She is a very good writer though and there are sections that could stand alone, but felt like they belonged in another book. Disappointing.

Her other two, much better:

In the Shadow of Gotham
Stephanie Pintoff

This was a nice little mystery by a first time author, a bit farfetched but creative. Set at the turn of the last century, this, the first in a series, tells of a murder that takes place in a suburb of New York City. The main character is a police detective who spends most of his time investigating in New York. The author adds nice period detail but the story line is a bit thin and predictable.

The Kind One
Tom Epperson

I really liked this book, set in 1930’s LA. It reminded me of James Elroy’s books and it is pretty violent, but the story is original and the characters memorable.

It tells the story of a Danny Landon, recently out of the hospital, who works for a vicious gangster, very ironically nicknamed The Kind One. Danny has amnesia from a head injury and is an extremely reluctant criminal, which contradicts stories he has heard about his own brutal past. He lives in a quintessential California apartment court and becomes involved particularly with two of the other residents, an ex-pat Englishman and a neglected little girl.

The ending is a little improbable and wild, but over-all it is an entertaining read. A movie version starring Casey Afflek and directed by Ridley Scott is due to be released next year.

The Girl She Used to Be
David Cristofano

An utter fantasy that could only have been written by a man, but a fun read nonetheless.

Six year old Melody Grace McCartney’s craving for a special treat led her family to witness a mob killing. In return for their testimony (which does NOT result in the mobster’s conviction), the family goes into the witness protection program. Melody’s teenage rebellion and disclosure of the truth causes her parent’s deaths and now, at 26, she is still in the witness protection program, riddled with guilt.

Enter Jonathan Bovaro, son of the murdering mobster. He tracks her down, obstensibly to kill her for his family, but it seems he has fallen in love with her. She soon returns his feelings and most of the book revolves around discussions of guilt, personal identity, resolution and family ties.

Believe it or not, the overall tone of the book is light hearted, despite the subject matter. The ending was creative and surprised me. This is a quick, entertaining diversion.

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cube said...

We share a lifelong love of books, but often I find myself never having heard of the books you review. I'm curious, how do you pick out the books you decide to read?

Marie said...

That is such a good question I answered it with a post. lol Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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