Monday, September 17, 2018

#41: The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette

A scheming man becomes the guardian of an orphaned nephew who just inherited a fortune; when he hires a nanny fresh from a mental institution, and then a hitman to take care of them both, things don't go quite as planned in Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Mad and the Bad.

Manchette is at the top of the list in French noir, with a notably bleak, yet darkly comic, style that was the template for many others.  This one is lighter on existentialism, and heavier on action, than some of his others, but is a completely enjoyable read front to back.

I enjoy reading Manchette whenever I come across one.  This is the New York  Review Books Classics edition, which I found at the New Castle-Henry County Public Library.  Recommended if you have never tried French noir.

Monday, September 10, 2018

#40: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

A struggling painter and a young boy are the sole survivors of a plane crash, and soon find themselves in the center of a media firestorm in Noah Hawley's Before the Fall.

The novel starts with the crash, but quickly spins back in time, over years and through multiple points of view, showing the lives of the people on the plane, and gives hints as to what might have contributed to the crash.  These people include a media mogul and his young wife, the mogul's security chief, a financier about to be arrested and his wife, and the flight crew, including a party-boy co-pilot and a stewardess at the end of a troubled relationship.

Hawley has written several novels but may be better known for his television work, including his current project Fargo. I was really looking forward to this book based on his other credits, but found this to be a pretty standard but not disagreeable thriller. Socio-political commentary, including a FOX News-style commentator with his own secrets, adds value.

I listened to a good audiobook version on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

#39: Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

A floating Arctic city, overseen by AIs but really overrun with corruption and crime, feels its balance of power shift when a woman riding a killer whale and trailing a polar bear arrives at its docks in Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City.

Ensuing events unfold through the eyes of multiple narrators, including a low-level bureaucrat who used to be a street punk, a rich but slumming young man, a journeyman fighter with gaps in his memories, and a gender-fluid teen who works as a delivery person.

Miller has done a great job with world-building, and has a contemporary view of sexuality and politics.  The novel also features interesting characters and situations throughout.  It is a rare dystopian novel with a glimmer of hope at the end. 

Recommended for science fiction fans. 

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