A quick catch-up on some recent good reads:
The Lie of You by Jane Lythell
I first came across Jane on twitter during a discussion on football (never under-estimate football discussions on twitter!) and immediately loved her blog Chronicles of Chloe Greene. Chronicles of Chloe Greene is partly a traditional blog but also contains lots of entries by 'Chloe', a fictionally blogger. The blog is "set in the 1980's and follows the adventures of feisty, left-of-centre Chloe Greene who lives with her artist lover Kit in challenging conditions". These posts were beautifully characterised and made for really compelling reading. Once I knew she had a book with a publisher, I knew I would have to read it.
The Lie of You is a psychological thriller told in a dual narrative. We follow Kathy and Heja as they battle first at work and then for much more significant stakes. As readable as her blog, this thriller is taut and steady rather than fast and furious, giving plenty of time for Jane's excellent characterisation. Though slightly slower than the genre 'thriller' might suggest, the involvement you have with all the characters (even the bad ones) by the end makes reading the resolution especially tense.
One of the particular pleasures is the fact that the characters all work in the world of architecture and the book is very visual. I love the buildings, the cityscapes and interiors that are almost as important as the plot. This and the characterful, steady pace mean that this might suit those who are not normally thriller readers, as well as those who are.
The Escape by Robert Muchamore
The Escape was recommended to me by a boy in my 'Gifted and Talented' reading group. He added the comment that he better warm me that it is very violent. He wasn't kiding. Aimed very much at older children it thoroughly entertained this adult. It is violent but then it is set during the Nazi invasion of France, and the things that French children must have seen and experienced at this time does not bear thinking about ...
Marc Kilgore, abandoned as a baby, lives in an orphanage with a corrupt and cruel director who enjoys giving the most brutal beatings. As the Nazis arrive Marc takes the opportunity to steal the director's life savings and his bike and escapes into a world of bombings, fleeing French soldiers and the ever encroaching presence of the invading army. Also on the run is an Englishman with important documents. As he and his children, sensitive, artistic Paul and practical Rosie, flee armed French collaborators, the SS are now also on the trail.
This is the start of a series about child spies run by Charles Henderson, a James Bond-esque character we meet late on the book. The Escape really is a page turner and captures the atmsophere wonderfully, but it is not for the faint-hearted child, especially when Marc crosses the path of the SS a little too closely. I can see why my young friend from the book group loves the series so much though.
...and reading now?
I've just finished a re-read of the first Fiona Griffiths book Talking to the Dead (you can see my earlier views here). There are not many crime novels that bear a re-read after just 6 months but this one does. It is all down to the brilliant, brilliant characterisation. If you have not come across the series I heartily recommend them.
I have also just started Straight Man by Richard Russo. Not a book to read in public places unless you want people to ask you why you're grinning like an idiot. It is only my second Russo and it certainly won't be my last.
What are you reading now?