Another month gone and reviewing time has been hard to come by so it’s another round up here at 746 Books as I finish up 2016!
I did quite a bit of reading this month, but not all from the 746, a habit I need to curb if I want to make any kind of dent in this never-ending pile of books! Having said that, I’ve finally reached the milestone of the 500s by the end of the year with no days to spare, so that’s something!
No 601 Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get round to reading John Connolly, given my fondness for Irish writers and my love of crime fiction. I’d heard that there was a touch of fantasy in his writing, which I think had put me off, but Every Dead Thing, the first in the Charlie Parker series was a pleasant surprise. Well, I say pleasant – it’s not really a word you would immediately use to describe this vicious, graphic crime novel which is reminiscent of TV shows Hannibal and True Detective in its grisly depiction of torture, murder and serial killers.
Two years ago, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s wife and daughter were graphically murdered by the self-titled Travelling Man. Now a recovering alcoholic, Charlie is taking detective jobs for cash and winds up looking into the disappearance of Catherine Demeter, girlfriend of a well-known crime bosses son. As Charlie hunts for Catherine, he begins to realise that her case and that of the deaths of his own family may be linked and the resurfacing of the Travelling Man brings the case to a head. Every Dead Thing is a busy book, possibly a bloated one. It teems with detailed characters, back stories and tangents and could even be read as two books in one – with Catherine Demeter’s disappearance being solved half way through and the main story returning to focus on the search for the mysterious Travelling Man. The pace never lets up as the body count rises, but Connolly has a knack for capturing a wide canvas in vivid detail and cranking up the thrills (and the gore) past what you might expect.
I’m not sure if I could read another Charlie Parker mystery in the near future, but it is a series I’ll return to again, when I’m in the right mood!
Read on: Book
Number Read: 146
Number Remaining: 600
No 600 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Do you ever have a book you have thought you have read? I think because I have seen the fabulous Olivier/ Fontaine adaptation of Rebecca so many times, I’d come to believe I’d read it at some point!
I’m glad I finally made the time to read Rebecca, as it is a complete masterpiece. Beautifully written and hauntingly thrilling, I simply couldn’t put it down and was intrigued by this tale of jealousy, self-doubt and murder. The names Manderlay and Rebecca may be embedded in the collective memory by now, but the book focuses on a nameless narrator, the second Mrs. De Winter. As famous a character as Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw, we don’t even know her name. The novel’s nameless young narrator marries the older Maxim de Winter after a whirlwind romance in the South of France and returns to live with him in his opposing estate Manderlay where she is filled with fear and self-doubt due to the abiding presence of his first wife Rebecca, who drowned in a boating accident. The imposing housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers does not help the situation and Du Maurier wonderfully captures that fear of the rival – the more beautiful, more accomplished woman who came first and cannot be replaced.
In Du Maurier’s sure hand, Rebecca is as much alive as any other character in the novel and that is what makes our narrator’s plight so vivid. We, the reader are intrigued by her enigmatic presence that pervades every page, as it does every moment of the second Mrs. De Winter’s life.
Billed as a gothic romance, Rebecca is actually a very accomplished psychological thriller, incredibly well- plotted and drawing the reader in to the extent that when the truth of what happened to Rebecca is revealed, we are ourselves complicit by siding with the first Mrs. De Winter.
What I most loved about the book though is the wonderful depiction of how jealousy and a lack of self-worth can eat away at a person until they could come to destroy the very thing they love the most.
I wondered if I had said the wring thing. Perhaps it did not do to apologise. Perhaps it lowered me in his estimation. I wished I knew what to say, what to do. I wondered if he suspected, as Mrs. Danvers had done, that poise and grace , and assurance were not qualities inbred in me, but were things to be acquired, painfully perhaps, and slowly, costing me many bitter moments.
The second Mrs. de Winter is an insightful study in youth, inexperience and lack of confidence.
Where the book also differs, for the better in my opinion, from its famous movie adaptation, is in the seed of doubt that is planted about what happened to Rebecca. Was she a cruel, vicious woman? In the film we are never in doubt, but in the book, the only proof we have of this comes from the often cold and bullying Maxim. Everyone loves Rebecca, so who was pretending? Rebecca or her husband?
The power of this novel comes from the questions it refuses to answer and the ambiguities that give it a depth and fascination that almost requires repeat reading.
Read On: Book
Number Read: 147
Number Remaining: 599
So, there we have it. I’m into the 500s before the end of 2016 – just! I wonder how close to the 400s I can get before the end of 2017!
I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and here’s to another great year of reading and blogging ahead!