This past month life has been crazy. Not crazy bad, just busy. Lots of work commitments, a trip to the desert to see my grandfather, taking up a new hobby (guitar) and getting ready for my big trip to Nosara, Costa Rica for my pilates certification course. I leave this weekend! When I return I will do one big book review highlighting everything I enjoyed while traveling, relaxing and learning. Voy a escribir cuando regrese. Adios!
I learned of Hour of the Red God from NPR. I was drawn to the location, Nairobi, Kenya and the protagonist, a former Maasai warrior, Detective Mollel knowing both would create an interesting, different type of mystery. Also having traveled to Nairobi, I was curious how Richard Crompton would depict the city and its people. Crompton uses descriptive prose to bring Nairobi alive. The city is more than a simple setting for a brutal murder of a prostitute. It is a textured part of the story line exposing the gritty yet modern Africa during the turbulent elections of 2007.
The Secret Keeper significantly lacked what is expected from a Kate Morton mystery. Morton's other books were magical exposing an intricate story line with fascinating characters. This tale faltered. The primary character, Dolly is unlikeable. Laurel is lukewarm. Vivien's situation with her husband is extremely predictable. Jimmy and Vivien's disappearance is not well executed and hence lacks intrigue to prompt the reader to consider alternative scenarios. The book is far too long detailing aspects of characters lives that do not contribute to the overall story line. I was truly taken with The House at Riverton, The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden. The Secret Keeper was not Morton's best work, yet I will not disregard her as a talented author and will openly embrace her next read.
The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon took me forever to finish. My mom gave me this so-called mystery. It fails to provide the excitement and suspense that most readers seek from this genre. Bacon promises a mystery but really this book has an identity crisis without a true direction. Is it a murder mystery, suspense, drama, romance, coming of age story turned bad or young adult fiction? What an awful read. It lacked intrigue, the characters were boring, there was very little time focused on the solving the crime and there were too many subplots that had nothing to do with the main story. Bacon's writing style is very juvenile. She was not able to write dialogue that made sense for her male characters. The male characters read like women. I had to keep reading as I wanted to know how the story was resolved, but it was extremely painful and predictable.
The Hiding Place is an extremely sad, dark novel. Trezza Azzopardi sets the scene in the soon to be demolished Cardiff, Wales docklands. She develops a stark, scuzzy, cold environment where the Gauci family struggles immensely. The main character is Dolores. Her goal is to untangle memories, piece together stories and sort through the gossip to learn the truth behind what tears her family apart. "Someone must be to blame." Dolores eventually realizes that it’s impossible to pinpoint who is to blame “as with all truth, there is another version.” Azzopardi is absolutely brilliant with language. In the story, ghost pains plague Dolores. These pains not only represent the real loss of her hand, but also the loss of her family. She misses what she never had. She was so young when her sisters were sent away, her dad left, her mother broke down or when she is placed in care. She wants so desperately to be part of her family. A family that is grossly dysfunctional. Azzopardi has created a disturbing, emotionally powerful tale.