Sunday, October 07, 2012

2012 books, #86-90

Indelible, by Karin Slaughter [audiobook].  Read by Deborah Hazlett.   [S.l.]: BBC Audiobooks, 2006.

Two intertwined plots, here - one a shooting and hijack situation in Grant County; and one an entangled situation years before, involving at least some of the main characters.  This is the first of Slaughter's books I've read (I have to admit to being put off by the surname, at least in part) but it was tremendous, plot-wise.  There were some things I absolutely hate which turn up in so many US novels - "purposefully" rather than "on purpose/deliberately", and "cohort" rather than "sidekick" - and they were in full view; please, someone buy this woman's copy-editor a dictionary.  Even so, I've added Slaughter's series to my reading list.

Death comes to Pemberley, by P D James. London: Faber, 2011.

This was interesting, and I'm glad our book group picked it - but ultimately slightly unsatisfying as both a period and a detective story.  The detection element is, of course, hampered by contemporary forensics - one of the detectives is dreaming of the day when one man's blood can be distinguished from anothers - and by the lack of a police force at the time; and both of these are interesting parts of the plot.  A lot of the plot is exposed through letters and correspondence, but we find out a reasonable amount about magistrates and trials of the era.  There are odd flashes of Austen - Elizabeth's description of Mr Collins's reaction to the murder, for instance.  He began by stating that he could find no words to express his shock and abhorrence, and then proceeded to find a great number, few of them appropriate and none of them helpful.  I should really have re-read Pride and Prejudice to remind myself of past history, but it was an absorbing enough read.

Lestrade and the sawdust ring, by M J Trow [audiobook]. Read by the author. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2008.

Sholto Lestrade is forced to run away and join the circus in pursuit of a murderer at "Lord" George Sanger's Circus.  As he continues to investigate, he also begins to question involvement at the highest level - Howard Vincent, founder of the recently-established CID, and Disraeli (hilariously caricatured by Trow).  Lestrade employs his tenacity, physical clumsiness and almost complete inability to connect facts until they're staring him in the face in this nicely-read romp around 19th-century showmanship.

Brainiac: adventures in the curious, competitive, compulsive world of trivia buffs, by Ken Jennings. New York: Random House (Villard Books), 2004.

Ken Jennings made his name by winning 74 consecutive games on the quiz show Jeopardy! in 2003.  This book is part autobiography of that episode in his life, but also an affectionate, funny history and exploration of trivia culture, from the publication of Notes and queries in the 1870s to an account of a weekend spent visiting teams involved in an 8-questions-an-hour, 54-hour trivia weekend run by a campus radio company.  As an extra bit of fun, what appear to be footnotes throughout the book are actually trivia questions, with the answers at the end of each chapter.  I loved this book.

The uninvited, by Liz Jensen [audiobook]. Read by Colin Mace.  Rearsby, Leics: W F Howes, 2012.

This is a truly scary dystopian tale; possibly something John Wyndham might have produced if he'd been writing now.  Something is happening to both children and adults - in the children it manifests as uncontrollable violence against adults; in the adults, industrial sabotage followed by suicide.  Anthropologist Hesketh Locke, himself the former stepfather of an 8 year old boy, narrates and investigates the phenomenon.  Locke is an ultra-rationalist with Asberger's Syndrome and has always found himself a slight outsider to the belief systems he studies; his perspective is made more interesting as a result.  As ever with dystopias, the author flounders slightly towards the end, but this in no way detracts from the achievement of the rest of the book.