Tuesday, June 13, 2017

some contemporary book reviews

hello fellow reader

well, here we are. another two books read, look you see, and so it's time for me to opine my thoughts and feelings on them, whether such is solicited or not.

in an interesting turn these two novels are, at the time of writing, what one may consider contemporary reads. as in, they are relatively new paperbacks and may well be ones that people are considering for a summer read. assuming we get some sort of summer back.

so, as usual, then, a look at the two books in question and something of a spoiler free overview.

both of these novels were surprisingly satisfactory reads. no, i didn't go into either expecting them to be anything but this. it's just that both require something of a leap of faith and an acceptance of patience testing contrived plot developments. interestingly - perhaps because they are good stories or are simply well written - this doesn't cloud any positive view i have of them.

indeed there are clear links in respect of the novels. the provenance of both is W H Smith as the stickers say, with them being "buy one, get one half price". this is quite expensive for novels, since Tesco shall sell you two for less than the price of one. it was, however, all a most kind gift from my (considerably) better half.

yes, also, both are endorsed by "Richard and Judy". if memory serves correct i think these two hosted some sort of morning TV show in the 90s. perhaps they still do so now, or guest on one to talk about books. not sure and i simply cannot be bothered to look further into the matter.

right, disclaimers. from here on out a *** SPOILER WARNING *** is in place. i shall as ever try to be careful with this, but consider that a warning all the same. also, links to the novels for sale at the world's grocer are there for convenience. they are not affiliations, endorsements or suggestions as to where you may wish to purchase from.

to start where i started with these two, then, which is with The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. this was as point of fact the novel i wished to pick up, as the title was interesting. no, i didn't know much at all of the plot, the title was just interesting.

plot? two relatively new parents are at a dinner party at their neighbours. in the absence of a babysitter they have the baby monitor with them, with one of the parents going back next door to check on the child once every thirty minutes, or if you like every half hour. on one such check the baby has gone missing......

the thing that surprised me the most about this was, and not reading up first might explain the surprise part, that it is set in New York. for some reason i had just assumed it would be an English setting, but there you go. this is relevant as, of course, the way that American coppers do things is different - decidedly so - from the English way of doing things. so the novel was not going to be in a style that i expected.

also, of course, "child goes missing despite parents saying they checked every thirty minutes" echoes a certain high profile English / Portuguese case from ten years ago. whilst saying it's hard not to see an influence as a point of departure for plot, let me say no more lest i trouble the lawyers.

how to write about this without giving much away. i suppose to say that it ticks the boxes in terms of keeping you interested - and wanting to read and read - in it's who what where when and why approach to the mystery. reveals come along a lot sooner than i had expected, for instance, but still i wished to read on and on.

i think this was a novel that said was "good for fans of The Girl On The Train". that phrase is soon becoming the "if you liked The Da Vinci Code" of selling books. but yes, i liked that novel and i really, really enjoyed this one. the novel has a wonderful, flowing style and is a pleasure to read. whilst some incidents and events are dancing on the border between improbable and preposterous, it remains entertaining all the same.

being presented with a "buy one get one half price" deal meant that i was required to select a second novel, for let it not be said that i or my (considerably) better half would turn down an offer. having had a quick look at what was on offer in W H Smith, I See You by Clare Mackintosh looked the most interested and indeed had a reasonable size print to the text. one or two others i considered lost out due to the small font used.

plot? the mother of a family has a fairly common and not unusual lifestyle down in London (innit). with it being London, life is of course full of the challenges that city represents, in particular financially. on the tube one night she (Zoe) spots what appears to be a photograph of herself in the classified section of a free newspaper. no details are given beyond a website address and what seems to be a phone number.

on investigation, Zoe discovers a different lady appears in a similar advert each day. when terrible common incidents start to link ladies who have been in the adverts, Zoe tries to balance paranoia with a genuine fear that she is being stalked for something sinister.....

in the acknowledgements section Clare Mackintosh delivers a classic example of the English way of doing things. she points out that second novels are notoriously difficult, and seems to be saying sorry in advance if it is no good. quite honestly, she need not have bothered, as once again this is a really good book. no, alas, i have not read her first - I Let You Go - but on the basis of this one i may well just seek it out.

the twists and turns in this novel are not quite so contrived or boundary of plausibility testing as The Couple Next Door. whilst not capturing the psyche of the commuter quite like the astonishing opening pages of The Girl On The Train did, it nonetheless captures the intensity of experience of London's commuter system.

I See You kept me reading, and indeed had me guessing and wondering all the way. the conclusion and twists are interesting, dare i say exciting, and do not deflate the experience of reading at all. no apology required for this book, Clare Mackintosh. this novel is very much worth your time.

and so there we have it. two fairly recent if not current, to be sure, novels read and reviewed. if you're looking for books to read during this theoretically summer season, off you go - either or both will do the job very well. and it would seem that's not just me saying that, but also this Richard and Judy business.

hopefully this has, as ever, been of some use or interest to someone somewhere. for me, then, it's on to the next books. ones which i should imagine will get commented on here. also, probably ones bought from somewhere what sells them a good deal cheaper than W H Smith.

thank you, as usual, for reading!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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