Sunday, August 26, 2018

#38: Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová

Two young couples in post-Soviet Slovakia figure out life and love in Jana Beňová's Seeing People Off.

Beňová provides a little slice of life in this vignette-oriented novel, some parts whimsical and magical, some parts more grounded in emotional and mental health.  All in all a fresh voice from the Eastern European school.

Beňová may be new to these shores in this English translation, but has written steadily, on a variety of platforms, in her native Slovakia.  She lives in Bratislava, the central city featured in this work.

I bought Seeing People Off  from Two Dollar Radio, an interesting publishing house for independent writing, based in Ohio.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#37: The Front Seat Passenger by Pascal Garnier

A man's wife is killed in a car accident with another man in the passenger seat, thus revealing an affair; so the widower begins to stalk the widow, with unintended consequences in Pascal Garnier's The Front Seat Passenger.

Garnier's novel reminded me of other French noir writers like Jean-Patrick Manchette and Seabastien Japrisot; inky-black comedy, existential crises, bleak storylines.

This one has about two-thirds of an unreliable narrator storyline and one third surprising mayhem, with a handful of murders. leading to a downbeat courtroom finale.

Garnier's novel is slim, and packs a punch.  I got it from Amazon in a collection called Gallic Noir Volume 2 and read it quickly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#36: His Secret Son by Brenda Jackson

A Navy SEAL and an art student meet in Paris over the holidays, and have a brief romance; a few years later they are reunited, and have a surprise son in the mix, in Brenda Jackson's His Secret Son.

Directly after their long weekend in Paris, the SEAL is captured in Libya and presumed dead; when he is rescued, he starts the hunt to find his previous love, now a famous New York artist.  How they eventually reunite, and rekindle their romance, is the center of pretty low-level tension in this story.

But the characters and situations are interesting throughout thanks to Jackson, who is notable in the romance world for being a writer of color and for writing stories featuring various racial backgrounds.

I listened to this on audiobook, on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Library in New Castle, Indiana, which was given a very good read by Pete Ohms.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

#35: Death Notice by Zhou Haohui

When a serial killer who sets elaborate traps resurfaces after many years, the Chengdu police form a special task force to catch him; but the police's own secrets might be their undoing in Zhou Haohui's Death Notice.

Death Notice was a big hit in China, and this first of a trilogy has been translated into English for the first time. 

A rocketing pace, twists and turns, and sometimes improbable plotting sets it comfortably in the western canon of summer blockbusters; but where I enjoyed it the most was insight into the lives of contemporary Chinese, and how our cultures are different.  Notable early on was the casual cover-up of a policeman's murder, as news of it was deemed too upsetting for the public to learn about.

I also enjoyed the motivations of the various task force members, some of which have surprising backstories that dovetail into a cliffhanger ending.

I am interested to read the next entry in this series.

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