Tag Archives: Nicci French

Relatively random, recently read

Bad me.  I’ve been reading, but not reviewing, and now I have a monumental stack of books and the SWAN library system (because it is not enough to get overdue notices from one library, no, I must have an entire system of interconnected libraries nagging me) is going into overdrive emailing me.

As a result, here is a round-up of super-brief reviews:

The Story of Beautiful Girl, Rachel Simon:  Super-great reviews from critics.  Hemmed-in widow answers her door to a deaf man and a mentally challenged girl who’ve escaped from a special “school,” girl gives birth, trackers recapture girl, man gets away, widow raises baby.  I found the story engaging but a little preachy.

The Diviner’s Tale, Bradford Morrow:  Well-reviewed.  Cassandra Brooks is a diviner in both meanings of the word- she finds water using a dowsing rod and also has paranormal abilities, which she has worked to repress.  Out looking for water, she comes across a hanged girl.  Raising an alarm, she comes back with the cops – no girl.  Is the girl from the past, the future, or some other place?  The novel has great characters, complicated relationships, and a compelling voice.  Big thumbs up.

Bleed for Me, Michael Robotham:  Again, good reviews for this suspenseful crime fiction.  Former cop Ray Hegarty is murdered, and it appears the killer is psychologist Joe O’Loughlin’s daughter’s best friend, Ray’s daughter Sienna.  Called in to do a psychological evaluation of the daughter, Joe becomes convinced that there is a hidden story and despite the odds, digs in and proves it.  There are good guys, bad guys, and complicated guys, and the book is well-plotted and a bit of a nail-biter.  Definitely recommended.

The Rope, Nevada Barr:  I’ve read others in this popular series and enjoyed them, but tried three times to get into this “prequel” and put it down each time.  If you’re an Anna Pigeon fan, don’t take my lack of enthusiasm as any reason not to read the book.

Blue Monday, Nicci French:  Psychotherapist Frieda Klein slowly becomes convinced that her patient may be involved in the recent abduction of a five-year-old child.  Her investigation reveals something even more chilling.  The novel has wonderful, interesting, smart characters and a great rationale for the underlying plot that is revealed at just the right pace.  My only complaint was that I saw the final twist coming, and any frequent reader of the genre will, as well.  A very satisfying read.

Wow! NYT book review astounding

I’m truly astounded.  The New York Times Book Review section runs short reviews of mysteries, PI’s, police procedurals, etc. on single page – typically four or five books will be reviewed.  Space is limited, so generally, I can count on this space for a quick look at several books I may wish to put on my library hold list, or even buy.  Some are going to be a genre (true crime) or type (translated from Portuguese) I’m not interested in.  But generally, reviews are positive.  After all, there are so many deserving books out there, why devote 4-5 column inches on a book that wasn’t good?

That’s why it’s astounding, and upon reflection, refreshing that Marilyn Stasio has reviewed the The Other Side of the Door and found it to be unworthy.    She’s even snarky!  The book’s conceit is that it withholds the identity of the victim and the role of the protagonist.  Who is it?  Did she murder that person?  Just find them?  What?  But to make it work, she has to have the main character say things like “Do you want to know what happened? and have her friend answer “Do you want to tell me?”  “Not yet.”   “Then wait.”

Marilyn’s comment on this back-and-forth?  “Take your time, ladies, and turn out the lights when you’re done.”  Love it.

I can only imagine that the reason for including the book in the ever-so-tight column is that it is written by Nicci Gerrard and Sean French (as Nicci French), and their books are usually reliable interesting and entertaining – so Marilyn probably received the review copy, expected to enjoy it, and felt ripped off.  Good for her for point it out.

Other books reviewed include Thomas Perry’s new one, Strip, The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard, and Storm Prey, John Sandford‘s 20th Lucas Davenport novel.  These four all go on the Literary Lunchbox library list.  Sorry, Nicci and Sean.  You can read the whole column and enjoy it yourself here.