I just finished reading Benjamin Black’s debut novel, Christine Falls. It is a murder mystery set in Ireland in the 1950s. If you do not know already, Benjamin Black is the pseudonym for John Banville. Yes, THAT John Banville of Booker prize fame (The Sea). I am not a fan of John Banville, the person, as he always manages to come across as pompous and whiney in all of his interviews. However, his writing is divine and I was certainly intrigued when I heard he was the author of a murder mystery…one which he felt compelled to hide his identity from. Interesting. I was expecting much much less than what I got but why should I be surprised? I can only imagine mystery writing is beneath Banville and that is why he hid his identity, for the book is actually beautifully written and quite fascinating to read. If you’ve read The Sea (as I have), you know that Banville is one of the most poetic writers of our time. His vocabulary is beyond mere mortals and his ability to use those words to create vivid images is masterful. With that said, read Christine Falls if you enjoy descriptive narration with solemn characters who rarely divulge their true nature (or maybe they do but I didn’t really feel satisfied with them). Setting and mood is Banville’s specialty and the characters and even the plot are secondary although intricately connected. The plot is not your typical murder mystery fare; in fact, it is hardly a murder mystery at all but rather a look into Ireland and the placement of children into orphanages in the 1900s. It is a gothic novel but that was clearly not Banville’s impetus when crafting his story. It’s a stunningly written novel with a plot that is only marginally interesting. It’s Banville’s words that make this story worth reading. He is a painter with the novel as his canvas…as cliched as that may be. Being a mere mortal, that is the best I can do.
*Edit: I recently read a review that called Christine Falls “a swirly, elegant noir” and I thought that a perfect description. I called it “gothic” because it reflects the Victorian penchant for dark mood and atmosphere. “Noir” is a more fitting term.
*Edit: I love receiving comments on my posts but please understand that I do not wish to debate my reviews. I do not profess to be an expert on anything…especially novels, grammar, or expression. I am just having some fun 🙂
I just finished this book by Tana French and it was another great read. My favourite by this author is her first one called In the Woods. It was such a great book that I’ve read it 3 times. I never do that. Her second was also great but it was so similar to another of my favourite books (The Secret History by Donna Tartt) that I was a little put off.
Faithful Place features Frank Delaney as the main character (he was a secondary character in the previous novel…and not a likeable one at that). I was hesitant to read it because I truly disliked Frank from The Likeness. Thankfully, French manages to make Frank somewhat of a sympathetic character despite his obnoxious qualities. I love that it’s set in Ireland and that it has a love story at its heart…a tragic one and a redemptive one all mixed together. My biggest complaint is that I knew who the killer was right from the start. Considering how completely and totally stumped I was by In the Woods, I found this a huge drawback from the novel as a whole. It read more like a pulp detective novel than a fine stand alone mystery like In the Woods. I’m still looking forward to the next book, of course, which features Scorcher as the main character. Once again I question French’s choice of main characters (Scorcher is a highly unlikeable character) and I miss Rob and Cassy!! I wouldn’t mind seeing Stephen take the lead but certainly he’ll be in the next installment. He’s too good to pass up.
A very interesting, if rather dry book written by an investigative reporter. Leslie Kean interviews many government officials, military pilots and the like in order to present a compilation of the most compelling stories involving UFOs. Most importantly, Kean looks at the word “UFO” and the connotations surrounding it. There is no denying the existence of UAPs (unexplained aerial phenomenon); in fact, officials at every level in every government admit to their existence. What we don’t know is where they come from and what, exactly, they are. Although witnesses and officials unanimously admit that the phenomenon appears to be under intelligent control, Kean is very careful to omit any discussion of the extraterrestrial within her book; she seeks only to discuss how each country has approached the phenomenon.
A very interesting book that creates more questions than it attempts to answer.