INTO THE WATER

PAULA HAWKINS

“Seriously: how is anyone supposed to keep track of all the bodies around here? It’s like Midsomer Murders, only with accidents and suicides and grotesque historical misogynistic drownings instead of people falling into the slurry or bashing each other over the head.” 

The death of Nel Abbott in the Drowning Pool opens this overly complicated novel.  Her teenage daughter Lena believes her mom committed suicide, but Nel’s estranged sister Jules, returned reluctantly back to Beckford to care for Lena, believes it was something else. As Jules looks for answers, in her own past and among the locals, she finds that Nel has made a number of enemies while writing a book about the Beckford drownings, and that Lena’s best friend, Katie, died a few months earlier in the same place. “Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women,” Nel wrote.

Once the cases are closed, the people of Beckford debate who is and is not a “good person.” They apply the label forgivingly to men with excuses for their misdeeds but withhold it from the women who end up tangled in the weeds of the drowning pool.

It takes careful reading to follow all the twists and turns, and follow all the characters and clues, but in the end, it is worth the effort. This is Hawkins first book since she wrote The Girl on the Train.

“Yes, it is. It’s, like, when someone has an affair, why does the wife always hate the other woman? Why doesn’t she hate her husband? He’s the one who’s betrayed her, he’s the one who swore to love her and keep her and whatever forever and ever. Why isn’t he the one who gets shoved off a fucking cliff?” 

“Some say the women left something of themselves in the water; some say it retains some of their power, for ever since then it has drawn to its shores the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. They come here to swim with their sisters.” 

 

A PLEASURE AND A CALLING

pleasurePHILL HOGAN

Pleasure opens with one of the funniest first chapters ever written. Mr. Heming, a small town real-estate salesman, considers himself to be the town’s protector. When he reminds a dog walker to pick up the dog’s leavings and is told to piss off, he gleefully scoops up the poop, goes home to retrieve the walkers house key and leaves the shit in the middle of the man’s white carpet. He has keys for all the homes his company has ever sold.

But he is not a peeping Tom. He immerses himself in others’ lives.  “I don’t peep through windows. … I am not a stalker, or a voyeur. I am simply sharing an experience, a life as it happens.” “Among strangers’ belongings is where I am most at home…I know where they keep their private things, how they arrange their lives. I follow their plans and make mine around them.” 

“… a god at play.”

I loved how it starts off hilarious then gradually becomes creepier and creepier.

Anyone who reads this thriller will want to change their locks anytime they buy a new house.

THE ROSIE PROJECT

BookCover-TheRosieProject-01GRAEME SIMSION

Rosie is a light humerous novel that all can enjoy and laugh with. Don Tillman has Asperger’s syndrome. He has a total of two friends, his colleague at a Melbourne university, Gene, and Gene’s psychologist wife, Claudia, who gently guide him toward normalcy. Tillman flinches from physical contact and cooks all his meals according to an unvarying schedule. He attacks courtship by handing women a detailed questionnaire to test their suitability.  “Logically I should be attractive to a wide range of women.” He calls it the “Wife Project.” Until Rosie comes along. He finds Rosie to be “the world’s most incompatible woman . . . late, vegetarian, disorganized, irrational,” with her thick-soled boots and spiky red hair. Rosie wants to identify her biological father, and Don, a professor of genetics, offers to help surreptitiously collect and test samples of the candidates’ DNA. As they spend more time together their relationship deepens and develops.

I would say this is a must read.

 

“But I’m not good at understanding what other people want.’
‘Tell me something I don’t know,’ said Rosie for no obvious reason.
I quickly searched my mind for an interesting fact. 
‘Ahhh…The testicles of drone bees and wasp spiders explode during sex.”

“Professor Tillman. Most of us here are not scientists, so you may need to be a little less technical.’ This sort of thing is incredibly annoying. People can tell you the supposed characteristics of a Gemini or a Taurus and will spend five days watching a cricket match, but cannot find the interest or the time to learn the basics of what they, as humans, are made up of.”

THE HUMANS

humansMATT HAIG

Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University, one of the great mathematical geniuses of our time, has just discovered the secret of prime numbers, thereby finding the key that will unlock the mysteries of the universe, guarantee a giant technological leap for mankind and put an end to illness and death. Alerted to this amazing breakthrough on the other side of the universe, and convinced that the secret of primes cannot be entrusted to such a violent and backward species as humans, the super-advanced Vonnadorians dispatch an emissary to erase Martin and all traces of his discovery. The book that opens with our alien narrator finding himself in the body of the professor, whom he has just assassinated. But the instantaneous intergalactic travel hasn’t turned out quite as expected. Instead of finding himself in Martin’s office, our nameless Vonnadorian has arrived in the middle of a major highway , with no understanding of human culture and wearing his victim’s body but not a stitch of clothing. He is run over but rapidly heals himself and stumbles off to a gas station where he peruses a Cosmopolitan magazine to learn the local language.

The beginning is laugh out loud funny as the alien learns about post-millenial earth culture and comments on it as a visitor from a far. But as he becomes more human the novel changes tone to warm, welcoming glow.

This is a must read.

KEPT IN THE DARK

darkPENNY HANCOCK

Sonia was the last person to see her friend and neighbour’s 15 year old nephew, before he went missing. The police are slow to respond; a person is missing unless 24 hours have passed. No one imagines that he tide to a bed in Sonia’s childhood home over looking the River Thames. What will she do when her family returns for the weekend. Is he as good as dead. Who is the mysterious and sadistic Seb in Sonia’s memories.

DARK is a page turner. If you like reading creepy books you’ll enjoy this.

 

Mice

GORDON REECE

Shelly was being bullied at school by her former best friends; she never told, mice don’t complain. “Mice are never rude. Mice are never assertive”  Her mother also a mouse was bullied at work and at home before and during the divorce. Her mother caved in to every unreasonable demand from her husband, Shelley’s father, who left her for a twenty-something girl. “Mum” signed away all right to alimony and a share of her husband’s pension, and she even returned some of the gifts he’d given her during their marriage. When the school bullies almost killed Shelly, the mother and daughter moved out of town to a cottage at the end of a road where no one would bother them. They rejoiced in their privacy: gardening, reading, playing and listening to classical music. Shelly did not go to school rather tutors came to her. They felt their life was an ideal life for mice. On the eve of Shelly’s 16th birthday their pastoral, idyllic lifestyle is destroyed when a  cat burglar enters their home and they stop being mice.

There were times that I skimmed parts of this novel but I still recommend it. A good read.