Friday, February 16, 2007

Sue Grafton and Michel Faber

D is for Deadbeat (by Sue Grafton) has Kinsey accepting a job as messenger - a man asks her to find a teenage boy named Tony and deliver a check for 25 thousand dollars to him. Kinsey accepts, but when the client's retainer check bounces she goes to find him instead. He turns out to be bad news, an alcoholic just out of prison. He also turns up dead, and now his daughter hires Kinsey to find out if and by whom he was killed. Middling, I'd say - one of those where I'm not 100 % in on what makes Kinsey tick. But the end is quite good, when she tries to talk someone suicidal off a roof.

Faber is a new one for me. I was recommended him on a forum I hang out on. The library had The Courage Consort and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, so I borrowed them. They have one fault - being too short for a full day at work. Quick reads, but good ones.

TCC was my favourite. The Courage Consort is the name of an a cappella group dedicated to modern composers. Courage is also the name of the group's leader, Roger, and thus of his wife, the wilting, severely depressed Kate. She lives her life in the shadow of the dominant man who has shaped her, contemplating suicide daily. Faber's description of how Kate's depression controls her is excellent - in no space at all he sketches a portrait of someone in thrall to despair. Now the group is headed for two-week rehearsal in a chateau in the Netherlands (I didn't know they had chateaus in the Netherlands!), forcing them into closer contact than they have ever been before. The quiet atmosphere, exposure to the other members and the strange cries she hears in the night start to draw Kate out of her shell. I really liked this. It was moving, funny, succinct and realistic.

T199S was not bad, but I just didn't like it as much as TCC. Again we have a female main character, Siân, who is trying to overcome depression - in this case perhaps not as severe. The book is set in Whitby, where Siân is working an archaeological dig, plagued by nightmares in which she is murdered. She meets an attractive man with an even more attractive dog, who shows her an old letter he inherited from his father (the man did, not the dog. Obviously.). Carefully Siân opens the damaged scroll to read the confession of a man who did something terrible more than 200 years ago. My only gripe with this book really was that it felt a bit short and unexplained somehow, like the ending came too soon and suddenly. It's an absolutely beautiful little book though, with gorgeous photographs of Whitby throughout. I'd love to go there - mr Bani has been and really liked it.

I've borrowed The Fahrenheit Twins now, a collection of his short stories. Looking forward to it. I imght read Babes in Beijing first though (palate-cleansing, as it where).

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