Thursday, February 23, 2017

#23: The Girls by Emma Cline

At the end of the 60s, at the end of her parents' marriage, a teenage girl gradually disconnects from suburbia and falls in with a growingly dangerous cult in Emma Cline's debut The Girls.

The Girls has elements of literary fiction and elements of thriller, with the obvious parallel being to the Manson murders.  But at its center Cline's novel is really about a young girl's awakening sexuality, and her attraction to a magnetic young woman in the cult. 

How this relationship slowly, and then quickly, destroys lives around them is the spine of the story.

This is a solid read for those with any type of fiction interests and is recommended.  A really good rendition on audiobook by Cady McClain adds value.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#22: The Wild Stallions by John Benteen

The Army has their eyes on the prize horses of a defeated Indian tribe, but Jim Sundance--a product of both worlds, who has fought on both sides--begs to differ in The Wild Stallions by Ben Haas (as John Benteen).

I have been reading and enjoying this western series featuring tough-minded storytelling mixed in with real characters and situations (this volume including brushes with Chief Joseph and Calamity Jane, among others).  A generally more clear-eyed renditions of the treatment of the Indians than you see in a lot of vintage Western fiction is a welcome change.

If you like your westerns more Lee Van Cleef and less Gene Autry, Benteen's Sundance novels are worth digging up.

A friend sent me a batch of these in the mail recently, and I read this one quickly.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

#21: Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

A young man in Iowa--working in a small town video store at the end of the VHS era--finds unsettling clips spliced into tape rentals, upending his world in John Darnielle's Universal Harvester.

Darnielle's second novel, after the acclaimed Wolf in White Van, is both a sketch of rural midwestern life and at the same time a very creepy horror-flavored story with more questions at the end than answers.  Without ever showing its hand, the novel gets under your skin--to the point that I picked it up and put it down several times, but ultimately finished it.

Darnielle carefully sketches a world that shows the serenity of an endless cornfield, but the underlying uncertainties of how a rusty car got left in the middle of it all.

A mix of literary novel and early Stephen King thriller, Universal Harvester is rewarding for interested readers.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Monday, February 13, 2017

#20: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Somebody sent London P.I. Cormoran Strike a severed leg, and he has several suspects to chose from in the latest thriller from J.K. Rowling (writing under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym) Career of Evil.

Rowling was outed as Galbraith some time ago, but it's a good thing that she is still using the name, so an unsuspecting young muggle doesn't inadvertently wander into this story.  It is chock full of adult elements, including gruesome murders and dismemberment, spousal and child abuse, and plenty of fighting and gunplay.

But it is Rowling's characters and situations that go beyond the genre trappings; Strike's troubled childhood with a rock star father, his loyal assistant Robin on the verge of making a bad luck marriage, and various family members and friends are well drawn and interesting.

This is the third in the series, and all are recommended to mystery fans.

I listened to this on audiobook from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.  The story was really enhanced by a good read from Robert Glenister.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

#19: The Believer by Joakim Zander

A woman in New York is a trendspotter for hip companies; back in Sweden, her younger brother Fadi becomes radicalized and heads to Syria; and in London, another woman has a laptop stolen after a night of drinking.

How these three storylines connect, and are connected to shadowy government agencies, is at the center of Swedish thriller The Believer by Joakim Zander.

This is a big, globe-trotting book ready-made for a movie adaptation starring Emily Blunt.  In the writing world, I would most closely equate Zander with late-era John LeCarre.

Slices of immigrant life in Sweden adds value to one of those big conspiracy storylines it never pays to think too hard about.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana.