A Book for Every Year…

I got the idea for this post primarily from the brilliant Christa over at A Voluptuous Mind who posed a list earlier in the year of her favourite movies from every year she has been alive.

I got to thinking what my favourite books would be and inspired by the 1951 Club, I thought I would list my choice for the best books of 1971 to 2015! The reason I’m stopping at 2015 is because I didn’t read any notable new releases in 2016 or so far this year given my on-going book ban. Some years were easier than others – 1971 was pretty tough, but I had to debate between several books for 1993! Some were read at the time (although obviously I wasn’t reading John Berger on my first birthday!) and some only recently, but they represent a selection of some of my favourite books!

So, let’s kick off and see if any of your favourites are here too!

1971 – 1980

1971: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

1972: Ways of Seeing by John Berger

1973: Deenie by Judy Blume

1974: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

1975: American Buffalo by David Mamet

1976: Will you Please be Quiet, Please by Raymond Carver

1977: Dispatches by Michael Herr

1978: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

1979: The Executioners Song by Norman Mailer

1980: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

1981 – 1990

1981: Good Behaviour by Molly Keane

1982: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend

1983: Fool for Love by Sam Sheperd

1984: Money by Martin Amis

1985: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

1986: Perfume by Patrick Suskind

1987: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

1988: Libra by Don DeLillo

1989: A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving

1990: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

1991 – 2000

1991: Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney

1992: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

1993: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha! By Roddy Doyle

1994: The Skriker by Caryl Churchill

1995: Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

1996: Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane

1997: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

1998: Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

1999: Plainsong by Kent Haruf

2000: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

2001 – 2010

2001: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

2002: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

2003: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

2004: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2005: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

2006: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

2007: Remainder by Tom McCarthy

2008: A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

2009: A Scattering Christopher Reid

2010: A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

2011 – 2015

2011: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

2012: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

2013: Tenth of December by George Saunders

2014: A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

2015: Tender by Belinda McKeon

Any of these take you back to a specific year? Or is anyone else tempted to make a list of their own? I’d quite like to do the same for music and movies, if I can find the time!

Here Are The Young Men by Rob Doyle

 

He frowned. She laughed. He brightened. She pouted. He grinned. She flinched. Come on: we don’t do that. Except when we’re pretending. Only babies frown and flinch. The rest of us just fake with our fake faces. He grinned. No he didn’t. If a guy grins at you for real these days, you’d better chop his head off before he chops off yours. Soon the sneeze and the yawn will be mostly for show. Even the twitch. She laughed. No she didn’t. We laugh about twice a year. Most of us have lost our laughs and now make do with false ones.

London Fields, Martin Amis

Meet Rez, Kearney, Matthew and Cocker, the ‘young men’ of the title of Rob Doyle’s brutal but brilliant debut novel Here Are the Young Men, all of whom are tired of faking with their fake faces.

Here Are the Young Men cover

The novel tells the story of these young men as they spend a purgatorial summer between finishing school and waiting for their exam results. None of them are sure of what they want to do with their futures – go to University or get a job, but all are determined to have one last summer of excess and ‘getting fucked’.

The setting is Dublin in 2003, the height of the Celtic Tiger when these young men have a raft of possibilities ahead of them. There is work to be had, college places to apply for and family offering jobs in America. They have loving families, attentive girlfriends and aside from worry about exam results, the future is bright.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-07-at-7_13_05-PM

However, as Doyle delves into the minds of each of the young men in turn – from the depressive Rex to the sociopathic Kearney – what he finds instead is emptiness and anxiety, petty violence and disturbing sexual desire. Growing up with reality TV, violent video games and easy access to drugs and alcohol, the young men are looking inward and don’t like what they see. Yet these are not the mindless of thugs that populate say an Irvine Welsh novel, Doyle’s characters are smart, but they are bored.

It wasn’t a hangover, just a sickening sense of emptiness, like there was a cold pit inside me and I was at the bottom, looking up towards a distant skylight, shivering.

A sense of exile pervades this novel. The young men are exiled from their families, from their city and their culture and ultimately from themselves. There is a sense of removal and an alienation that pervades their lives. The reality television programmes they watch claim to be real but aren’t. The pornography they watch is not real, yet it forms the framework for their relationships with their girlfriends, to the extent that Rez cannot tell if he or his girlfriend enjoy sex, or are just pretending. Kearney, the most unhinged of the group, has imaginary and not so imaginary conversations with a character from the video games he plays incessantly, until real violence and screen violence merge and blur and even he has no idea of what is real anymore.

Lately I’d grown depressed at the thought – which not long ago would have felt exciting – that most of my friends were twisted, volatile outsiders. You started out playing with this stuff – the extremism, the chaos – and it felt vital and exhilarating; but then suddenly you couldn’t control it, you’d gone too far and it wasn’t exciting anymore, only frightening.

As the boys try to fill their summer, Doyle explores the psyche of these teenage boys and what he finds veers from the general teenage angst of Matthew, through to Rez’s depression and Kearney’s sociopathy. With the exception of Kearney, whose American Psycho-esque rants will horrify and entertain in equal measure, Doyle remarkably captures a generation of young men drowning in anxiety and isolation.

shutterstock_142478233

Like Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange, they try to find solace in drink, drugs, sex and violence but these diversions only isolate them further and in that particular period of time between school and ‘real-life’, they are struggling to find something meaningful to aspire to. They all want to experience rather that watch life and for Kearney, that takes on a darker tone as his latent violence threatens to take him and the rest of the gang into territory they could not previously have imagined.

The tale of a boy on their class who killed himself echoes around the narrative of Here Are The Young Men and Matthew’s girlfriend Jen reminds him that

More men between 18 and 25 kill themselves in Ireland than in any other country in the world – apart from Norway

Here Are the Young Men cleverly explores the world that today’s young men and women are growing up in and find it, rather than them, lacking. This is life as a simulation and as their attempts to find something real to experience races along, it is inevitable that one, or all of them, will crash with disastrous consequences.

This book is definitely not for everyone, it is bleak, brutal and at times really tough to read, with violence, date rape, anger and foul language populating its pages. It can at times veer into the implausible and the female characters are underwhelming, but the novel is alive with a sharp, intoxicating prose and a dark sensibility that peels back the fake face to reveal the true mind. Here are the young men, they might be frightening but they are real.

Here are the young men, the weight on their shoulders,

Here are the young men, well where have they been?

We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber,

Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in…

Joy Division, Decades

No 646 The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

ask

I included The Ask in my first ever 20 Books of Summer challenge and didn’t get round to reading it. It was pushed back to the bottom of the TBR pile (and we all know how low that is!) that is until I read Sam Lipsyte’s hilarious and very moving story The Naturals in Belinda McKeon’s recent and great collection of stories on distance A Kind of Compass. In The Naturals, a father and son try to bond during their final days together but don’t quite get there, despite advice from a pro-wrestler called ‘The Rough Beast of Bethlehem’.

The Ask also tackles dark days and the father/ son relationship with that same mix of humour, bathos and insight.

Plot definitely takes a back seat to style in The Ask, but calling it slight isn’t meant as a criticism. Our narrator, Milo Burke once hoped to be a painter, but is now a fundraiser at ‘Mediocre University’ in New York, trying to solicit donations from potential rich benefactors (hence ‘the ask’). Milo, by his own admission is not very successful at his job. He says himself

I’d become one of those mistakes you sometimes find in an office, a not unpleasant but mostly unproductive presence bobbing along on the energy tides of others, a walking reminder of somebody’s error in judgment.

In an attempt to keep his job, he is tasked with an ask of an old college friend, Purdy Stuart, who is now fantastically wealthy. In return for fulfilling the ask, Purdy has an ask of his own. Purdy has a son by an old, now dead girlfriend and that son Don, a twenty-one year old Iraq veteran who has lost his legs in combat, is threatening to go public and announce his existence to Purdy’s current, pregnant wife and to the world. Milo is to keep an eye on Don and deliver his hush money and in return Purdy will fund whatever the university wants allowing Milo to keep his job.

Even with added narrative strands involving Milo’s failing marriage and relationship with his son Bernie, and his unresolved relationship with his own dead father, that’s not an awful lot of story. Yet around these bones is the stylistic meat and that’s where Lipsyte comes in to his own.

This is a funny novel.

A very funny novel and with the best works of comedic fiction, the flights of linguistic brilliance mask the very serious anxieties at its core.

Some lines are throwaway;

I’d had a hard time deciding whether or not to carry a knapsack, a messenger bag, a canvas book bag, or a briefcase. Each seemed to embody a particular kind of confusion and loss. But the knapsack did the least spinal damage.

Others appear throwaway but hide deeper, more universal truths. While resting his hand on his child’s head, Milo muses,

I wondered if this gesture, some compound of fond feeling and flight readiness, was hardwired by nature, or maybe television. It felt natural. But so did television.

As Milo lurches from his unsatisfactory home life, his precarious job and his work for Purdy, he muses on past events in his life, trying to understand why someone who thought he was going to be America’s Next Great Artist is now a balding, disappointed man facing middle age with just enough knowledge to be aware that what he has achieved in life hasn’t counted for much. Lipsyte captures perfectly a downward spiral of disappointment and self-awareness, with Milo always quick to find the punchline.

Later, in bed, Maura and I cuddled in the way of a couple about to not have sex. It never appeared to bother us much, unless we watched one of those cable dramas about a sexless marriage. Then we’d curse the inanity of the show, its implausibility, switch over to something where the human wreckage was too crass to touch us

Milo’s relationship with his son Bernie brings some much needed warmth to the novel, with Milo trying to balance the notion of how much he loves his son with his role as a father. His own father was a rarely-there heroin addict, whose gift of a knife becomes a talisman for all that Milo has lost. Milo is one of those men who sees forced obsolescence even in familial relationships.

Not long ago, Bernie said ‘beep-beep’ every time he heard a car horn. Later his favourite word was ‘mine’… ‘beep-beep’ begets ‘Mine’, which begets ‘I hate you, Dad’. Then, if you’re lucky, there’s a quick ‘I love you, Dad’ followed by ‘Let go, Dad’, these last words whispered under the thrum of ventilators, EKG machines.

It’s funny, it’s unrealistic, but at its core it has a hint of cynical truth. And like Martin Amis’ Keith Talent, or Ignatius JReilly, Milo is the hero who can’t face the profundities he recognises and so resorts to the punchline to avoid the punch.

sam

Sam Lipsyte

 

It is his self-knowledge and bathos that make him hard to dislike, hard not to root for, even when you know you shouldn’t. Milo is never merely bitter, there is always a wish for better behind his jokes. In a nod and a wink of a passage, Milo asks a colleague if he is ‘likeable’,

‘No, I mean, if I were the protagonist of a book or a movie, it would be hard to like me, to identify with me, right?’

‘I would never read a book like that, Milo. I can’t think of anyone who would. There’s no reason for it’

So is there a reason for a book about Milo? Well, yes. Because The Ask is ultimately a state of the nation novel, an exploration of a collapsing society and a generation caught in-between, not knowing their place in a changing world.

The book opens with Milo’s colleague Horace stating that

America…was a run-down and demented pimp…Now our nation slumped in the corner of the pool hall, some gummy coot with a pint of Mad Dog and soggy yellow eyes, just another mark for the juvenile wolves

The very important point being made is that the country is ‘departing the age of the big give’ as the gap between the rich and the poor widens and many are lost in between. The theme of distance is once again explored, distance between parents and children, distance between old friends and distance between those with money and those without. America is just a whole series of asks and gives, but the asks are multiplying while the gives are dwindling away.

While Milo’s rich friend Purdy drinks ‘hind milk smoothies’ and hires ‘a Ghanian griot for our Friday meetings’, a war veteran turns to blackmail and a carpenter thinks he will get rich pitching a reality TV show where famous chefs cook the final meals for prisoners on Death Row (‘Dead Man Dining’).

The Ask reminded me very much of early Martin Amis novels like Money or London Fields with its heroic anti-hero and heightened characters. There is a sense that, like Amis, Lipsyte feels he has nothing to lose and the linguistic tricks and sheer confidence of the writing often leave you marveling at how perfectly a sentence has been crafted after the laughter has subsided. This is a book that is simultaneously intricately constructed and seemingly effortless.

I will admit that The Ask won’t be for everyone. It is funny, but knows it is funny and the humour may wear thin if not to the reader’s taste but for me this is black comedy at its finest, both precise and deep, cynical and heartbreaking.

Read on: iBooks

Number Read: 101

Number Remaining: 645

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

Top Ten Tuesdays – Books I Want to Read But Don’t Yet Own

Top ten tuesday

Oh boy was this week’s theme made for me! Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and this week’s theme is the Top Ten Books I Want to Read But Don’t Own Yet. Or as I have alternatively titled it The Books That Cathy’s Husband Will be Buying Her for Her Birthday.

Given that I haven’t bought a book in 8 months (the longest I have gone without book buying in my adult life) this was a pretty easy list to compile. I could have even done a Top Twenty. Hell, a Top Fifty wouldn’t really have been a stretch at this point.

But 10 it is. So here they are. The books I have been coveting the most for the last 8 months….

1. The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin
I mean really. Who places a book-buying ban on themselves just before the publication of the last instalment of the greatest series of books ever? I really, really regretted not buying this before I started my blog, but I didn’t. So it is top of my wish list. I am dying to find out what happens to Anna Madrigal and that lovely bunch of Barbary Lane residents.

 

2. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
This is a no-brainer. I’ve read and loved all his books. So far he hasn’t put a foot wrong. The Guardian has called The Bone Clocks ‘a globe-trotting, mind-bending, hair-raising triumph’ which is good enough for me.

 

3. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The moment I started my challenge, it seemed to me that all my favourite authors decided to announce publication of their new books, out of spite. Just to test my resolve. This is another period drama from the superlative Ms Waters, exploring the lives of a mother and daughter forced to take in lodgers after the War ends. I anticipate sumptuous page-turning drama shot through with that trademark tenderness and intelligence.

 

4. The Fifty-Year Sword by Mark Z Danielewski
What’s this you say? A new book from House of Leaves author Mark Z Danielewski? A prose poem? With five different narrators looking back on one terrible night? That comes in its own box? With drawings and an unusual layout? Remind me again why I haven’t failed my challenge on this book alone?

 

5. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
The fantastic Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith won…take a deep breath here….. the International Thriller Writer Award for Best First Novel, the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was long listed for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the inaugural Desmond Elliot Prize. High pedigree indeed and enough to make me want to read The Farm even if I didn’t know anything about it. I know this though:

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden, the country of his mother’s birth. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. In fact, she has been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.

Now that is a premise. And I really, really want to read it.

 

Books not bought collage

6. In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell
I have been known, in the past, to buy books based solely on their title. You’ll all find that hard to believe I’m sure, but there it is. I’ve been intrigued by the sound of this book since I heard of it. By all accounts bizarre, dense and dreamlike, this tale of a couple who go to the wilderness to make a new life and raise a family but are thwarted by failed pregnancies, sounds just odd enough for me.
 

7. The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
Did I hear someone (quite a lot of people) saying that this was a return to form from Amis and akin to Times Arrow? That’s enough for me.
 

8. Orfeo by Richard Powers
I wanted to read this before it was long listed for the Booker Prize as Richard Powers The Time of Our Singing would be on my Top Ten Books of All Time. Anything new he writes is a must-read for me and this tale of an avant-garde composer labelled a terrorist by Homeland Security and forced on the run sounds really intriguing.
 

9. Sleep Donation by Karen Russell

Sometimes I think the reason I’m drawn to a book about a world where hundreds of thousands of people have lost the ability to sleep but can be gifted sleep from healthy people is because I have twins and I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night for at least 2 years. I would have sold my soul for some sleep donation…..
 

10. The Friedkin Connection by William Friedkin

I’m a sucker for anything relating to 1970s cinema – Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is one of my favourite books about cinema, so an autobiography from the man who made The Exorcist, The French Connection and Killer Joe is right up my street. If he is as forthright and abrasive as his movies, this is going to be a great read.
 

So, are any of these on your list? What books are you really looking forward to buying?

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Owned Authors

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is the top ten authors I own the most books from.

Now, if I was being really honest, the top two would probably be Enid Blyton and Francine Pascal (I was OBSESSED with Sweet Valley High when I was young!) but since those books are all packed up somewhere safe and cannot be counted, I thought I’d go for the more grown up options! I’m not sure this list is indicative of my favourite authors of all time, but they have all been my favourite at some point in my life!

I’m also glad that the title for this week says ‘own’ and not ‘read’ because, as we all know, I have quite a few unread books in my collection!

So here goes.

 

1 - 5

1. David Mamet – 28
He’s in at the top spot with a grand total of 28 books/ plays read. I adore Mamet’s work, including his essays and novels, and although his latest plays haven’t been just so exciting, I will forgive all for the wonders of Speed The Plow, Oleanna and American Buffalo
Favourite Mamet? Glengarry Glen Ross

 

2. Joyce Carol Oates – 24
I’m actually surprised that Joyce here was pipped to the post for the Number 1 slot as she is my favourite author ever and incredibly underrated in my opinion. A wonderful, accessible and incredibly prolific writer.
Favourite JCO? Blonde

 

3. Don DeLillo – 17
I first read Underworld 15 years ago and it totally changed what I felt fiction could be. From the epic to the intimate, DeLillo explores the American way of life like no other author.
Favourite DeLillo? Underworld

 

4. Martin Amis – 14
I was surprised to see Martin Amis in my top five, as it has been a long time since he has written anything I have enjoyed, however I studied his work at University and his early novels are astonishingly clever. Lionel Asbo is waiting in the 746 so we’ll see if he can have a return to form.
Favourite Amis? London Fields

 

5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 13
The wondrous, magical world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez has enthralled and astounded me since reading Love in the Time of Cholera as a romantically inclined twenty year old. His was a true loss this year.
Favourite Marquez? One Hundred Years of Solitude

 

6 - 10

6. Chuck Palahniuk – 13
I know I posted a rather scathing review of the last Chuck Palahniuk I read, but his earlier books really are unique. And scary. And hilarious. And often disgusting. But I’ve read 13 of them, so he didn’t manage to put me off!
Favourite Palahniuk? Survivor

 

7. Margaret Atwood – 13
A joint entry with Chuck, I actually thought Margaret Atwood would have been higher on my list. While I’ve read most of her novels, I’ve yet to try her short stories and poetry. From science fiction to historical, Atwood never misses.
Favourite Atwood? Alias Grace

 

8. Henning Mankell – 12
Forget Steig Larsson, for me the Master of Scandi Crime has always been Henning Mankell with his Wallander series. Never just straight crime novels, his books examine issues of immigration, international politics and economics and feature one of the most interesting lead characters in Kurt Wallander.
Favourite Mankell? One Step Behind

 

9. William Faulkner – 11
In my final year at University, I took a course in the Literature of the American South on a complete whim and my love affair with William Faulkner began. The use of form in books like The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay dying has been often imitated but never bettered.
Favourite Faulkner? Light in August

 
10. Paul Auster – 11
Joint last place goes to that magician of reality Paul Auster, with his beautiful cover jacket photograph and his tales that mingle existentialism, detective stories, magic realism and coincidence. Always questioning the nature of identity and always hitting the spot.
Favourite Auster? The Music of Chance

 

So there we have it, my top ten. Special mention should also go to John Irving and Armistead Maupin, both with a score of 10 who nearly made the cut.
Do any of these authors appear on your lists? Who is your number one?

No 728 Tampa by Alissa Nutting

7/10 of March Madness

Image

Subtle? Moi?

I need to start by saying that I can handle an unlikeable lead character. Hell, I love an unlikeable lead character. Keith Talent, Patrick Bateman, Mrs Danvers are all great, memorable characters. Great protagonists have no need to be likeable; they just need to be compelling. A character can have a dubious moral code and still move the reader, as long as that code can be understood but not necessarily shared by the reader.

With that in mind, meet Celeste Price. She is a beautiful, wealthy, married, 26-year-old blonde who drives to her teaching job at a Florida high school in a red sports car. She’s also a self-obsessed, vain, amoral sociopath who tends to get what she wants. And what she wants? 14 year old boys.  She’s not your average paedophile then, but paedophile she is and this is 265 pages of intentional shock and salaciousness set inside the head of an obsessive sexual predator. Now I have just read The Seven Days of Peter Crumb where I was totally invested in and moved by the plight of a murdering, raping, mentally ill psychopath. Celeste has the potential to be that type of character, so it’s is a shame then that I just got so bloody bored of her.

Nutting attended the same Florida high school as Debra Lafave who, in 2004 gained notoriety for seducing one of her 14 year old students. Had I known that Lafave escaped a custodial sentence on the grounds that she was too attractive for jail, I may have given up on Tampa. I was really only reading to the end to see Celeste get her comeuppance. But Nutting stays pretty faithful to the Lafave plot.

As well as the Lafave case, Nutting also wants to draw comparisons to Nabokov’s Lolita. Like Humbert, Celeste chooses her victim with care and sleeps with the parent of her victim in order to remain int he illicit relationship. However, to compare the two any further than that would be like comparing Goodfellas to Mickey Blue Eyes on the grounds that they both contain gangsters.Nabokov’s writing is lyrical, Nutting’s is banal. There are no explicit sex scenes in Lolita, Tampa has little else.

When she’s not having sex with children, Celeste is thinking about it, masturbating about it or having unavoidable sex with adults and fantasising about it. This is a book that is trying really, really hard to shock, but any shock is very quickly dissipated by over indulgence and by about half way through I started skimming the dirty but dull sex scenes in the hope that there might be something approaching character development or plot around the corner. No such luck.

“I knew that if I was going to write this I was going to refuse to euphemise, I was not going to hide behind language,” says Nutting. Yet that is exactly what she does. Tampa hides behind the cheap pornographic set pieces – the taking of Jack’s virginity goes on for 10 PAGES – to mask the fact that the satire it is striving for is absent. There is a lack of any kind of exploration of why Celeste is the way she is. The same criticism can be levelled at American Psycho, but at least it contains humour and wit and targets the wider empty toxic environment that Patrick Bateman exemplifies. For the satire to be successful, Celeste has to be aware that she is trapped within her own egoism but she’s not. We are merely trapped there with her and it’s not a pleasant place to be. Given no broader moral point, the story is as empty, shallow and superficial as its protagonist and the reader is left with nothing to invest in.

Image

Debra Lafave, the ‘inspiration’ for Celeste Price.

All other characters are, without exception, two-dimensional, the continuous descriptions of every type of sex imaginable are wearisome and some of the plotting is questionable. Does Celeste’s classroom have no windows? Is that kind of acrobatic sex possible in the back seat of a convertible sports car? How can her cop husband not realise he is being drugged on a regular basis? Why on earth call it Tampa if it doesn’t make any discernible difference to the plot?

 Given the current climate of Operation Yewtree and the currency of the subject matter, it is clear that there is a point to be made about female sexual offenders and how society views them, but Tampa is not the book to do it.

Read On: iPad

Number Read: 19

Number Read March Madness: 7/10

Number Remaining: 727