Tag Archives: Murder mystery

Where the Crawdads Sing: A Coles Notes and Complaints

Everyone is reading Where the Crawdads Sing. Like over a hundred person waiting list at the library so I decided to buy it kind of everyone. And I’m glad I did. It was a perfect cottage read, even with a couple of flaws that prevent it from being great or an unqualified go-read-it-now.

Set in the lagoon-swamp of the Carolina coast, the novel opens with a dead body (always an exciting hook) and then moves decades back in time to follow  Kya, or ‘Marsh Girl,’ an abandoned child who raises herself amid the wilderness. Pulling at all the appeal that comes with person-versus-nature stories, Kya, must finds ways to both maintain her physical life through trading food and scraping up materials, as well as develop some kind of emotional-social life through relationship with animals and the natural sphere, while also courting – as much as she can – connections with people in the neighbouring town. Even while she always – and deeply – fears that everyone will always leave her. The propulsion of the plot is both in rooting for Kya and some kind of resolution to her absolute loneliness, but more in the understanding of her connection to the dead body, Chase Something-Maybe-Andrews(?) and an explanation of the crime.

Where the novel does incredibly well is in the vivid description of setting and place. Kya’s lagoon and her connection to the natural world is at once detailed and lively –  the reader readily accepts  along with Kya the magic of the land and its tenuous preservation amid efforts to develop it. No surprise, perhaps, as author Delia Owens was first a non-fiction nature and science writer. It also does well in the characterization of Kya, who we come to know intimately – in  part because  we feel through the third person limited narration, paired with her total isolation, that we are the only ones to truly know her.

*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD* Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bestseller, Fiction

His Bloody Project: Blerg.

I couldn’t remember the title of this book when I sat down to write, so I popped into google the things I could remember: novel, nineteenth century, crofter, bloody, murder, Scotland. And pop! Google knew exactly the title because there aren’t many novels set in the 1880s Scotland about a murderous crofter. (Probably there’s just this one.) Google also wanted me to know that Graeme Macrae Burnet is the author. You probably wanted to know, too.  Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book I'll Forget I Read, Booker Prize, Fiction, Prize Winner

Death Comes to Pemberley: The silly and exploitative adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

51oHvh-L-LL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Trapped in a hotel room for a week while at a work function, I couldn’t bring myself to read anything requiring focus or thought (I’ll admit I was also distracted by the availability of cable news: an opportune time to have access to CNN as the world collectively watches the meltdown of American political life). Instead I picked up a copy of P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley from the local used bookstore. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Mystery

The North Water: Read This Instead of Moby Dick?

72a2f412-cb9a-11e5-a8ef-ea66e967dd44

Mostly I find nineteenth-century Arctic shipwreck stories too familiar (even though – or because? – it’s a very particular category). One of my thesis novels, Afterlands, was all Arctic shipwreck all the time. And I must have read and re-read that novel a dozen times. Too many times to read much about whale blubber without shuddering with concern that someone might ask me about the significance of the whale. or the blubber. But how often do we read in this niche category? Obviously not often. Unless you’re someone who re-reads Moby Dick. In which case you are someone with other kinds of (whale blubber) problems. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Mystery, Prize Winner