Tuesday, November 27, 2012
2 questions and 2 books
If anyone's listening, I have a couple of questions for you. First, I've been learning Italian, and have gotten enough of the language to start reading noir (which the Italians call "gialli" or yellows) if the language the author is using isn't too difficult. So is anyone interested in reviews of books in Italian that are not available in English, and perhaps unlikely to be? I don't pretend to get every nuance of the stories, but armed with a dictionary (and sometimes Google Translate) I can at least follow the stories.
Second question, related to the books reviewed below, should bloggers review books that are disappointing, but not terrible? I don't want to warn readers off of books that I liked well enough to finish, but wasn't enthusiastic about (perhaps other readers might be more engaged by them)? Dead Man Upright, the fifth book in Derek Raymond's groundbreaking Factory series, but previously unpublished in the U.S, is in line with the others, in terms of style and pace until the last quarter o the book, when the unnamed Sergeant (the main character in the series) and a psychologist begin to interview the serial killer that they've been chasing. The conversations are interesting, and certainly relevant to any fictional (or real-world, for that matter) consideration of the phenomenon of the serial killer, but for me the pace and drive of the story are over.
Operation Napoleon, by Arnaldur Indridason, is a stand-alone thriller by the author of the excellent Icelandic series featuring Erlendur and the other detectives of his squad. Napoleon is, instead, about a plane that crashed in Iceland at the end of World War II, bearing some sort of secret, and the intrigue that occurs when the glacier that has been hiding the plane gives it back up to the light of day.
There's one interesting aspect of the book fro an American reader: the author evidently expects readers to accept that American military men and intelligence agents will be willing to do absolutely anything, no matter how heinous, in the pursuit of their ends. I don't necessarily disagree, but the degree of demonization is beyond that of, say, the Bourne sort of thing, and other U.S. thrillers with U.S. military and intelligence villains. But with that positive side of the story set aside, the book seemed to be repetitive and, except for the passages near the beginning when the story of a woman caught up in the drama begins to be established. The woman, Kristin, is a lawyer whose brother is unfortunate enough to witness the uncovering of the plane. He calls her just at the point when he's captured by the U.S. soldiers. What ensues, along with a threat from another angle, moves along at a good clip as a "chase" story for a while, but then gets bogged down in the details of the plane and its secret.
So conspiracy fans may get more out of the book than I did. Erlendur fans will probably sorely miss the gloomy detective and his team, as well as the procedural format of which Indridason is a master.
Is the above too negative, or am I revealing too much about the plot of the two books?