Mo Hayder Wrap-up

You might recall that earlier this year I discovered Mo Hayder – you can read that post here.  I was blown away.  So I went to the OPPL (Oak Park Public Library) and took out everything I could and devoured them.  I didn’t blog as I went, I read and then drafted up a bunch of posts.  Which I never posted.

So not to leave Mo hanging (as if!), I’m going to wrap it up today with a single post in hopes this will encourage you to discover this author if you haven’t already done so.

I couldn’t rustle up her first book (Birdman), so I started with The Treatment. This is the second Jack Caffery book – and a compelling mystery in the series it is.  Jack’s squad is called in when a couple are discovered bound and tortured in their home, and their eight-year -old son is missing.  As the investigation progresses, the revelations just keep coming, and the darkest secret comes to light at the book’s conclusion.  I don’t want to reveal too much, but think about parental dedication in terms of an even-more-awful form of Sophie’s choice – what terrible things would you force yourself to do to your child, if that were the only thing that would keep him alive?  And what would you not do, even if that would result in his death?

As we saw in Gone, Hayder does a wonderful job at switching perspectives to build tension and reveal information.  The grittier aspects of the book, which may turn off some readers, are presented in a way which evokes empathy for the characters and does not minimize the emotional impact.

The Devil of Nanking is a stand-alone novel featuring a young British woman, Grey, in Tokyo.  She’s come to find, if she can, a film of the notorious Nanking Massacre in 1937.   A professor at the University of Tokyo can help her, but extracts an exchange:  Grey must get close to an elderly gangster and discover the secret he is keeping, thought to be the key to longevity.   The old man is in a wheelchair and is guarded by a terrifying nurse.   Violence, heartbreak and secrets abound… you don’t know everything you think you know, and people are more terrifying than you imagine.  The Devil in Nanking is a good, unusual read.

What would you do if a con man bilked your mom out of thousands of dollars, promising her a cure, keeping her from seeking treatment… and then she died?  If you’re Joe Oakes, you become a reporter, and write an expose under an assumed name.  Pig Island protagonist Joe Oakes, investigative reporter and professional debunker, takes on the job of getting to the bottom of a video that purports to show a semi-human (half human, half devil?) creature on the island, home to an insular community founded by Pastor Malachi Dove.  Coincidentally (or is it?). he is the man who caused the death of Oakes’ mother.  Add in Joe’s jealous wife, general skull-duggery, a massacre, and an Dove’s damaged daughter, and you have a have a plot twist you’ll never see coming.

The Ritual is the third book in the Jack Caffery/Flea Marley series of police procedurals, and it’s another strong appearance.  It has the by-now well-known benefits of Mo Hayder authorship:  strong characters, skillful handling of multiple points of view, a personal connection to the investigating protagonists, suspense that ratchets up with regularity (in lockstep with how much you care about the person in danger) and a twisty end that doesn’t cheat.  As always, there are characters who are not what they seem.  The personal connection in this book is very strong – people who care very much do things they don’t want to do, while people who you care about a lot turn out to be less deserving than you think.

Mo’s got a new book out – Hanging Hill.  That’s good news for me!

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