Saturday, June 25, 2005

Die a Little by Megan Abbott

Die a Little by Megan Abbott sounded like an excellent book. Old L.A. film noir. I don't know that the book lived up to its billing though. Simply setting a story in that time period doesn't necessarily elevate it to classic crime noir.

The book was okay. It was a quick read. While it was plenty dark, containing an adequate amount of prostitution and drugs and blackmail, I felt like it only skimmed the surface. It gave you a peek at all the dark nastiness that was old L.A., but it didn't take you that close. The danger was very much there, but in the writing, it was quick, not quite scary enough. I thought this had a lot of potential. I wanted to know more. I wanted to gain a better understanding as to why the things that were happening were happening.

But before you think me too harsh with regard to this book, I should point out that I'm very particular about my crime novels. At this point in my life I only really like mysteries written by three different women (for the record, that would be P.D. James, Ruth Rendell - who also writes as Barbara Vine, and Minette Walters). I'm trying to branch out and the fact that I read this should serve as evidence of my attempts. But this book just made me long for my usual British settings.

I didn't hate the book. I believe it was the author's first novel, so there may be excellent stories in her future. This is a very good start for a debut novel.

I spent a rainy Friday night reading this by the lamplight. (Yeah, I go all out on my weekends...) It served its purpose. The ending was something of a disappointment. I just wanted more intensity, more grime. When I finished the book I was wishing for a more gruesome, violent resolution. As far as I was concerned the villain deserved much worse.

My recommendation: If you like fast-paced mysteries, give it a try. Makes for a very decent rainy night read. The 50's L.A. setting is quite enjoyable.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell delivers, always. The Rottweiler is no exception. This wasn't her best book, but it was, nonetheless, a very good book.

This is the usual murder mystery, set in London. I recently spent time in London and thoroughly enjoyed reading and recognizing the names of the streets. It made the story more vivid. Almost makes me want to go back and re-read other books that I've read that happen to be set in London.

There are several characters involved in this story. Maybe too many. I was a little disappointed with how some of the characters ended up. But it was fitting for the story, I guess.

I read this while working on my tan. If I'm going to be stuck in the Texas heat, I can't think of a better way to pass the day than out in my back yard with a book like this.

My recomendation: If you're a fan of murder mysteries, particularly those set in London, you'll probably like this.