East Lynne, by Ellen Wood [Mrs Henry Wood]. Oxford: World's Classics, 2005.
I posted a review of sorts of this last week... I'd read this years ago but had forgotten huge chunks of it, not least the number of absolutely horrible women in it. If you can bear Victorian melodrama, it's a cracking read, even if chunks of it are barely believable...
From a Buick 8, by Stephen King. London: nel [Hodder]: 2002
In 1979, a man in a long black coat abandons his very strange car at a gas station in rural Pennsylvania, and vanishes. The car - in theory, a Buick 8 but in practice, a car which looks as if it's been built by someone who'd never seen a car before - is stored in Shed B by Troop D, a dysfunctional family of cops. Over the years, many strange things happen in and around the car, but the troop keeps its secrets; until the son of one of its members killed in the line of duty comes along and the story is told. This is a fantastic yarn, told in an interweaving way by different members of the troop. There's a warmth and a compassion alongside descriptions which remind you why King is such a famous writer of horror. Horror isn't my genre, but I'll certainly be reading more writing like this.
Killing floor, by Lee Child. London: Bantam, 2011. [World Book Night edition.]
The first of the Reacher books, and really interesting for that reason. Some of these books are first-person, some third-person; this is a first-person narrative set 6 months after Reacher leaves the military police; but, as sometimes happens, he's being picked up in an unknown town for something he hasn't done. There are just a few things which don't totally ring true given that the books are set all over Reacher's biography; but blimey this is a good book; with a completely blindingly simple solve which just about gives the reader whiplash in Jeffrey Deaver mode...
I don't want to.... No. I do want to labour this point, but I promise this is the last time I'll do it. In this World Book Night 2011 edition, someone has painstakingly compiled a Reacher CV, and here are the passport-type details:
And I say again, anyone who immediately thought "Tom Cruise" on viewing that, stand up. I know they have to cast a Big Name, and I have heard that actually, Cruise is "convincing", in the film; and I've seen films where Cruise is a fine actor. I just don't get it though; maybe they've picked the one book in which Reacher doesn't use his sheer, brute size to intimidate/break down doors/hoist someone to an improbable height/kill someone with his bare hands/hurl someone out of danger...
It's like hearing they've cast Rupert Grint as Heathcliff. [I really like Rupert Grint, but he'd probably be the first one to admit that's Not His Role.]
Back of beyond, by C. J. Box. London: Corvus, 2011.
Not a Joe Pickett, but excellent; same setting, and a slightly different cast of characters. A fatal cabin fire seems to be a straightforward case of a drunk's inattention with matches and whiskey, but the first state trooper on the scene happens to know the victim as his AA sponsor, and is absolutely convinced the fire is no accident. The story develops into a chase across Yellowstone, with its hostile animals and even more hostile humans, and involves an adventure-holiday group which gradually seems to being picked off, member by member; and there's a scary and very clever twist in the tail. And as ever with Box, there's violence, but there is redemption.
Having looked up Box's biography, he has three daughters; this book has a pair of very sharply-drawn teenage girls, who, as in the Joe Pickett books, help drive both the plot and the narrative along. (I'm imagining there are only two in the books so he can preserve plausible deniability with the family.)
Stay close, by Harlen Coben [audiobook]. Read by Nick Landrum. Rearsby, Leics.: W F Howes, 2012.
Megan is a minivan-driving suburban mom, but her past life was in the strip clubs and brothels of Atlantic City. Ray is a washed-up photographer who's now reduced to working as a rent-a-paparazzo. Jack is a detective who's never forgotten a 17-year-old case in which Megan and Ray were involved. Their lives become re-entwined as a result of the disappearance of a man in a suburban park, and it can only go downhill from there. There are some good characters in this one, not least Megan's profoundly decent husband Dave.