Thursday, August 26, 2021

More (late) summer reading: Laura Lippman etc.

 Laura Lippman has recently been releaseing some of her most ambitious and succesful novels: I'm thinking in particular of the new-noir Sunburn and the new Dream Girl. Dream Girl is a twisty combination of horror (a la Stephen King's Misery, explicitly evoked in the book), a literary thriller, an academic comedy, and a meditation on resentment, revenge, andn authorship. Highly recommended and both compelling and fun.

The Good Turn, by Dervla McTiernan, was the kind of hidden gem that sometimes turns up on the digital galley websites, offering previews to bloggers and critics. This is the third novel in a series that I hadn't heard of, but it seemed interesting enough to have a look. In fact, this is an excellent police procedural with numerous distinctive features preventing it from settling into the groove of the average cop story. The characters are well-drawn, the plot complex and forward-moving, and the story involving. The setting, the west of Ireland and a bit in Dublin, is drawn vividly, and offers insight unavailable to a tourist. I went out and bought the first two novels in the series--how much more recommendation do you need?


Another Irish novel, by another author  I was not previously aware of: 56 Days, by Catherine Ryan Howard. There are too many twists in this one for me to reveal anything about the story (almost any preview would be a spoiler) except that it's very contemporary--set in the first Irish Covid lockdown, providing a claustrophobic background to the stor. I can only say that it starts out as a rom-com, shifts into horror and police procedural, and very effectively shifts back and forth in time to unpeel the story layer by layer, up to the final revelation. All along, you suspect that there's more going on than you can see, but Howard sustains both suspense and surprise all the way through. Ultimately it's a psychological thriller, an early crime-fiction take on the pandemic, and an entertaining read all the way to the end.