Best Female Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Self is reading her first Tana French, Broken Harbour.

She’s pretty stoked, as she’s been hearing so many good things about Tana French, for years now.

The last mystery self read was almost a year and a half ago, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (which she liked very much; Emily Blunt and Luke Evans were in the movie adaptation, sorry she missed seeing it)

Other favorite women mystery writers:

  • Morag Joss (for Half-Broken Things)
  • Karin Fossum
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Sarah Waters

Over on goodreads, there’s a list of “Best Female/Crime/Mystery/Thriller Writers.”

On this list, Broken Harbour is # 21.

The Girl on the Train is # 42.

Holy Cow, Fingersmith is #50 (No way. There’s just no way)

The list doesn’t even include Fossum or Rendell (As Septa Mordor on Game of Thrones would say: Shame! Shame! Shame!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Girl on the Train: Gathering Steam

Self quite likes this novel.

She takes back what she posted yesterday: that there is no Ruth Rendell like Ruth Rendell.

Paula Hawkins reminds self a lot of Ruth Rendell. A lot.

That psychological tension.

The setting is a satellite community of London. The protagonist is jobless. To stave off depression, or maybe as a consequence of depression, she keeps up her weekday routine of riding the commuter train into London and back.

P. 80:

I’d been in the library on Theobalds Road. I’d just emailed my mother (I didn’t tell her anything of significance, it was a sort of test-the-waters email, to gauge how maternal she’s feeling towards me at the moment) via my Yahoo account. On Yahoo’s front page there are news stories, tailored to your postcode or whatever — God only knows how they know my postcode, but they do. And there was a picture of her, Jess, my Jess, the perfect blonde, next to a headline which read CONCERN FOR MISSING WITNEY WOMAN.

And as for the awful bombing of the Orlando nightclub, and the wife of the perp being questioned by authorities, a friend remarked:

  • As long as she keeps talking, they won’t charge her. They need every bit of information she can give them. When there’s nothing more she can tell them, that’s when they’ll charge her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Babysitting: “The Girl on the Train”

This trope has been done before: babysitter develops crush on employer’s husband and it’s all yada yada yada.

Self began reading The Girl on the Train. She likes it, so far, even though the woman she sat next to on the plane said, “Didn’t like that one so much. Disappointed, after all the hype.”

Self was on page 6. The woman raised her book: a paperback by Danielle Silva.

She decided she’d stick with The Girl on the Train. It couldn’t be as bad as the other book she bought in London: Grey. At least, there’s psychological depth to Paula Hawkins’ narrator. She’s no Ruth Rendell but there is no Ruth Rendell except Ruth Rendell. Self would settle for a few nights of cheap thrills.

Here is the babysitter coming to work, on p. 38:

Today she doesn’t open the door, it’s him, the husband, Tom, suited and booted, off to work. He looks handsome in his suit — not Scott handsome, he’s smaller and paler , and his eyes are a little too close together when you see him up close — but he’s not bad. He flashes me his wide, Tom Cruise smile, and then he’s gone, and it’s just me and her and the baby.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Currently Reading: Second Sunday of December (2012)

It is a beautiful, sunny day.  Jennie and son have decided to sleep in.  Just as well, for they have a long drive ahead of them:  they are heading back to Claremont today, boo.

But, first there will be brunch!

Self keeps herself occupied by reading.  Her current book is Ruth Rendell’s The Monster in the Box.

Self’s first Ruth Rendell mystery was Thirteen Steps Down, and it was absolutely fascinating, a novel told from the point of view of a murderer.  The main character (the murderer) did not have as spectacular a psyche as, say, Hannibal Lecter or others of his ilk, but was rather a run-of-the-mill sad sack who had no idea that he was capable of murder —  that is, until he finally went and did it (more out of pique than, even, of anger).  Self would never have thought she would be quite so engaged.  Anyhoo, after that book, self added Rendell to her list of favorite crime writers, a list that includes Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Morag Joss, and Arnaldur Indridason (She also recently added a new name to the list:  Colin Harrison, whose thriller The Finder self read in Paris, during the few days she spent in a friend’s apartment, in July)

The Monster in the Box is again about a twisted soul, but this time we are in the point of view of a decent man, a recurring character in Rendell’s books, an Inspector Wexford.  Self has not yet been able to pinpoint his age, as —  despite her best efforts —  she is still only on p. 76 (and she began the book about a week ago).

But that’s OK!  Because self finished the novel she is reviewing, and she worked hard on her novel-in-progress, and son came two days ago with Jennie, and various other exciting things happened, which will keep on happening, self is sure, until the end of the holidays.

Casting a glance at the blurbs on the back of the book, self finds this by P. D. James:  “She has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche.”

Hear, hear!

And here’s something from Marilyn Stasio, the crime columnist for the New York Times Book Review:

“Ruth Rendell is my dream writer.  Her prose style, so intricate in design and supple in execution, has the disquieting intimacy of an alien touch in the dark.”

Again, hear, hear.  Turning, now, to one of self’s recent posts, she finds that a lot of people are viewing the post about  Naguib Mahfouz, the one in which she quoted from an issue of The Economist (September 2, 2006).  It is quite clear, after re-reading that obituary, that Mahfouz was a writer of place.  Quoting from The Economist:

. . . he was born, in 1911, in Gamaliya, a 1,000-year-old quarter whose densely packed and labyrinthine lanes were overhung by balconies that blotted out the daylight.  By the time he was six his father, a local merchant, had done well enough for himself to join the flight of Cairo’s burgeoning middle class to the airier, more modern parts of town.  But Mr. Mahfouz never lost his love of the Old City.  Many of his most pungent novels were set there and drew their titles from it:  Zuqaq al Midaq (Midaq Alley), Al Sukariya (Sugar Street).

Truly, your earliest memories never fail you.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NYTBR: 2 September 2012 (Pile of Unread Magazines Growing Again, Aaargh!)

Here’s the short list of most interesting reviews (or, reviews that made self most excited to read the books being reviewed):

  1. Dominique Browning’s review of Tan Twan Eng’s novel, The Garden of Evening Mists.  Very smart of Ms. Browning to begin her review with a description of “the mesmerizing allure of a classic Japanese garden” —  such is self’s addiction to all things Japanese, and to all things having to do with gardening, that the mere mention of “classic Japanese garden” has self all agog with excitement.
  2. Alexander Rose’s review of Ben MacIntyre’s latest book, Double Cross:  The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Self has a confession to make:  all a reviewer has to do is mention Ben MacIntyre, and self is sooo there.  She’s read three of his books, and even taught one in Foothill English 1B, for heaven’s sake!)
  3. Randy Boyagoda’s review of Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth, by Katherine Frank.  He writes self’s favorite kind of review:  the one that begins with quotes from the author whose book is being reviewed.  Self appreciates the generosity of the reviewer to a fellow writer.  So, in the first paragraph of his review, Boyagoda uses not one, not two, but three quotes from the esteemed Ms. Frank.  And each one is pretty good, though this is self’s favorite:  “That’s his secret:  Crusoe is Anyone and Everyone.  He is you and he is me.”
  4. Judith Martin’s review of The Age of Desire, by Jennie Fields.  First of all, it has self feeling so much empathy for the book’s subject, the author Edith Wharton.  In a classic paragraph, Ms. Martin writes:  “There could hardly be a more apt theme for a novel of manners than the struggle of a prominent and respectable lady to disguise her inflamed feelings in order to meet the conventions of society.  It is not only her frantic yearning for her lover that is portrayed here, but the fallout expressed in her irritation with her husband and her editorial assistant for unknowingly getting in the way.”  Very well-written review.
  5. Marilyn Stasio’s column:  Stasio always makes self want to read the mysteries she reviews, and in this case self is particularly excited to read these two:  Ruth Rendell’s latest, The St. Zita Society (Self never knew, until she read Stasio’s column this afternoon, that Ms. Rendell was a “responsible member of Parliament”!), and Anne Perry’s latest, A Sunless Sea (Great title, Ms. Perry!)
  6. And finally, bravo to Martin Amis, for making self remember that her first encounter with Anthony Burgess was a film review in Newsweek of A Clockwork Orange.  There was a picture accompanying the review, which showed Malcolm McDowell in his fiendish operatic make-up, and wearing a top hat.  And she couldn’t wait to see the movie, though she was much too young to gain admittance.  Years later, when she saw it, she was scarred.  And also elated.  Both those feelings at once.  Well, perhaps she was more elated.  For years afterward, she couldn’t get the voice of Malcolm McDowell, turning rhapsodic over “good old Ludwig van,” out of her head.  She nearly named Sole Fruit of Her Loins Ludwig van.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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