I’m way behind in my list of scheduled reviews, so I’m writing six shorter ones this week, one per day --what about a week having seven days, you ask? I’ll tell you in the next paragraph. (At least I'll aim for one per day, if I skip one day I'll make it up with two on another day). Don’t go thinking these books are not worth longer reviews though; they are definitely worth it and the money you’ll spend buying them will be an investment towards many great hours of reading.
On Sunday, I have rookie Eva Dolan’s Long Way Home (Harvill Secker/Random House UK), on Monday, Michael J. Malone’s The Guillotine Choice (Contraband), on Tuesday, Eliot Pattison’s Original Death (Counterpoint Press), on Wednesday, John McFetridge’s Black Rock (ECW Press), and on the following days, it will be reviews of recently published French translations: on Thursday, Michael Robotham’s Déroute (JC Lattès) and finally, on Friday, Michael Connelly’s Le cinquième témoin (Calmann-Lévy). These two were originally published as The Wreckage (Mulholland) and The Fifth Witness (Little, Brown).
In total, we have one Brit, one Scot, two Yanks, an Aussie, and a Canuck. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? Well, if you don’t read them, the joke’s on you.
As for day seven of the week, next Saturday, I’ll be posting my review of Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead (Little, Brown), along with a short Q&A. I wanted to post it last week but decided to wait until May 31st, which is closer to the book’s publication date of June 3rd. Also, at some point during the week, I’ll review I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (Atria), a book that is getting a lot of buzz. I’m only at page 100 at the moment, but so far it is holding up to its high expectations.
OK, ladies first. Eva Dolan’s Long Way Home reads like a story written by a seasoned author. It is everything that many debut novels are not: the writing is tight, well-paced, and intelligent; the plot is original and the characters behave like real human beings. The duo of investigators, DI Zigic and DI Ferreira, work for the Hate Crimes Unit, something we haven’t seen much in crime fiction.
The first victim is a migrant worker who seems to have been beaten unconscious before being burned alive in a small shed. For Zigic, Ferreira and their entire team, gaining the trust of the community is the first obstacle to overcome if they want to obtain information and thus work the case effectively. We’ll follow them through every step of the investigation, their tasks at work, and also into their personal lives.
Dolan’s narration expertly tracks the characters’s perspectives to help us understand them, their frustrations and motivations, their fears and dilemmas; she also gives them distinct voices and great dialogue while creating interactions that move the plot forward. Their inner-thoughts are also often rendered with a great visual touch, as in this excerpt: There were many boxes in her head, all tightly locked and shoved away in the dark. Over time some of them fused and she was spared the memories she didn’t want to face, but others corroded and leaked, snatches of conversations and strange faces swimming up unexpectedly, provoked by the smell of a certain tobacco or a snatch of music on the radio. Others snapped open without warning and slapped her between the eyes.
The plot, which can at first seem a little light, becomes gradually more complex as other events complicate the investigation. The reader quickly finds himself hooked into it all until the very end. Great for fans of Mark Billingham. I want more stories with Zigic and Ferreira. But more specifically, I want more books by Eva Dolan.
Rating: 3 1/2 thumbprints
Rating: 3 1/2 thumbprints