Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yes, this actually is a book blog...

There's been a fair amount of reading going on behind the scenes around here...I finished these books a couple of weeks ago.

In the Woods by Tana French was not exactly what I was expecting. This is the story of detective Rob Ryan, who is investigating the murder of a young girl along with his partner, the bright and adorable Cassie Maddox. It just so happens that detective Ryan grew up in the area where this murder takes place, and was involved in another murder case as a child. He entered the woods with two of his friends as a boy, and was the only one ever seen again. He remembers nothing of that time.

I think I was expecting more of a psychological thriller, and what I got was more of a police procedural. There was a psychological piece, but it was more about the detective and not the victim or suspects. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book - I really did and found it to be a page turner and quite well written. It is more of a literary mystery than some others that I've read. Some of the aspects of the case bothered me, namely the fact that the victim was a young girl. The detectives immediately targeted her family as suspects which made me feel very upset. I couldn't help thinking, what if my little girl went missing and instead of figuring out who had harmed her, the police were targeting me. The relationship between Rob and Cassie was interesting as well, complete with lots of sexual tension, and an outcome that was not entirely unexpected.

I definitely didn't see the ending coming, so I think French did a good job of maintaining suspense with this clever storyline. I was a bit disappointed though in one aspect of the ending that I was expecting more resolution with. I think if you've read the book you'll know what I mean. I liked this book enough to request French's latest book The Likeness from the library. It also features detective Cassie Maddox. The storyline sounds just as compelling as this one.


So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz is told in alternating storylines, one taking place in 1963, the other in present day. As the stories unfold it becomes clear how these stories relate and the character's complicated relationships with one another are revealed. The main part of the story has to do with present day Jon and his wife Ginny, who Jon is cheating on with Freddi, a coworker. We follow them though one hot, sticky, summer day, as they go through their day and encounter various other people who also seem to have a history of relationship troubles. There is even a stalker, Ethan, who follows Freddi around. His behavior veers from disturbing to terribly frightening to downright funny. He is bit of a food snob and being sort of one myself, I found it humorous to read about his preoccupation with table manners and food in general.

I cannot really say that I enjoyed this book, mainly because I am not really interested in reading about infidelity. This was an ARC supplied to me by the publisher which is why I continued with it. It is certainly a readable book, and a well-told story which leads to an improbable and rather dramatic conclusion. It is a book about relationships, but unhealthy ones, which is perhaps why I never connected to any of the characters or the story itself.

11 comments:

J.Danger said...

So Long at the Fair was not a favorite of mine either. I liked that their were so many other character relationship interactions, but it almost seemed force. Maybe if instead she just focused on two or three couples.

Kay said...

Thanks for the good review of IN THE WOODS. I have it here to read at some point. It was nominated for some awards I think. I also have the second book in the series but being an orderly person, I like to read in order. Ha!

Again, thanks. It gives me a better idea of what the book was like. I do like literary mysteries, but I have to be in the right mood for them.

Pink Lady Bug said...

The Tana French book sounds interesting. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for it.

Tara said...

J Danger, Hi, thanks for stopping by! Good point, it did seem forced, especially the part about the couple who had divorced and she had remarried. Thanks for commenting.

Kay, I have to be in the right mood too, but I do enjoy mysteries in small doses.

Pink lady bug, I'm glad it sounds interesting to you - it's a good read.

melanie said...

Totally in agreement with your In the Woods review. I am getting ready to start book 2. And thanks for the heads up on So Long...I'll definitely move it down the list and it may fall off. :)

Iliana said...

I loved In the Woods but know exactly what you mean about the ending. At first I was really bothered by it but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. I actually can't imagine how else that could have worked. Sorry if that's so vague but I don't want to post any spoilers :)
I'm looking forward to the second one.

Traci said...

I keep seeing lukewarm reviews for So Long at the Fair. I've got a review copy that I should be reading, but I keep bumping it back. I guess I should just read it already.

Tara said...

Melanie, I don't think I've read any reviews of The Likeness, so I'll look forward to seeing some. I requested So Long..based on the author... I don't think I would have ever picked it up had I known the storyline, though.

Iliana, it makes sense to me too -in my head. I guess I just had this idea that there would be more closure. Selfish desire!

Traci, I'm glad I just read it right away, so that I'm not in a similar position - if I'd read reviews first, I might not pick it up either.

StuckInABook said...

Infidelity seems such a constant theme in modern literature, it gets wearying, especially when the reader is expected to applaud it. More sophisticated portraits of marriage - To The Lighthouse comes to mind - make much more interesting reading.

LisaMM said...

I'm in the same position as Traci with So Long.. I keep reading less than glowing reviews, so it's taking me longer and longer to pick it up..

Tara said...

Simon, that's true I think, and in other places as well. I just read a magazine that had two different articles detailing someone's infidelity and yes, it is wearying. Thank you for the suggestion.

LisaMM, I would be in the same position as you if I had waited, I'm sure!