RIP Reviews

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So far I've had a great R.I.P. Challenge year. Between the group read of Slade House and a few other mysteries that I took on vacation, I'm loving it! I even stumbled upon one that I wasn't reading for R.I.P. at all and was surprised to find a scary mystery within the novel's pages. I've officially finished the Peril the First level, but I'll keep reading anyway. More info here! #ripxii

Slade House
by David Mitchell
Loved reading this creepy book. I'd highly recommend reading The Bone Clocks first as it will give you a much better understanding of what's going on. Mitchell continues to impress me with his writing and the variety of genres he tackles. He doesn't shy away from plots that stretch your mind, but this is definitely one of his most accessible and easy-to-read books.

He manages to capture the eerie feeling of a haunted house while at the same time crafting a great story. It's part of the complex world he created in The Bone Clocks, but it also works as a stand alone story. It's broken up in chapters (The Right Sort, Shining Armor, Oink Oink, You Dark Horse You, and Astronauts). With each new chapter his main character changes, once again demonstrating his ability to right from incredibly different points of view convincingly. He's an awkward young boy, then a jaded cop, then an insecure college girl, etc.

BOTTOM LINE: I loved seeing Mitchell explore a new genre and will continue to be a fan!

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew Sullivan
This one surprised me. I was expecting a quirky bookstore novel, but instead found a strange mystery. Lydia witnesses the suicide of a man named Joey in the bookstore where she works. She ends up going down a rabbit hole searching through the clues that he left behind. Her own troubled past begins to surface the deeper she digs. 

The book explores how a history of violence can travels down through generations. It's about the bad decisions or past traumas we try to hide to protect ourselves but really enough isolating ourselves. Lydia's life is shaped by the horrifying event that shattered her world as a child. From peaceful days spent at her friend Raj's donut shop, to living in a cabin in the woods with her father, Lydia's life has never found its balance again.

There were only a few moments in this book where the plot didn't work for me, mainly when her father was involved. Most of the time I was completely sucked in and I love the way it all came together in the end. 

BOTTOM LINE: A very satisfying read and way darker than the cover and title might suggest.   

The Lying Game 
by Ruth Ware
I really enjoy Ware's style and her books suck me in quickly. This one had a great atmosphere even if some plot points were a bit of a stretch. I wasn't a huge fan of The Woman in Cabin 10, but I loved her first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.  That one remains my favorite of hers so far.

This one relied a little heavily on the gimmick of "the lying game" which felt like the weakest point of the plot to me. It's part boarding school friendship story and part mystery. It takes place in a secluded spot on the coast of England in a dilapidated house that's only reachable at certain times of the tides, similar to The Woman in Black (which I loved). 

Four girls, Isa, Fatima, Thea, and Kate have a shared secret from their past that has come back to haunt their lives. I really loved the character of Fatima. Even when some of the other's would grate on my nerves, I always enjoyed her. At the same time, she always seemed a little above the struggles of her friends and didn't quite fit with the group. Kate's father Ambrose was also a complex character that never felt like a cliche to me. The little town of Salten felt like a character as well. From the small houses covered in fishing nets to the nosy neighbors, it was alive in every way.
I also just left the stage of having an infant and so I love her descriptions of the the struggles and joys of new motherhood. The main character, Isa, has a six-month-old baby and the book talks about nursing, losing yourself in motherhood, the strain on a relationship, etc. It all felt so accurate and recent to me.

BOTTOM LINE: A quick read that's hard to put down. It doesn't quite measure up to her other's, but she has an undeniable talent for portraying characters and creating tense situations. 

Faceless Killers 
by Henning Mankell
This is the first book in the famous Wallander series. It's set in Sweden, which made it a perfect choice to read during a recent trip to nearby Iceland. The novel is much more about detective Wallander than the mystery itself, but a friend had warned me about that, so that helped set my expectations in the right place. He's a typical detective in so many ways, self-destructive, with a single narrow-minded focus on the case at hand. I love some of the supporting characters at his office, particularly his good friend Rydberg an older detective. 

The case in this one follows the murder of an elderly couple living in the countryside. Even though the novel is more than 25 years old, it delves into the controversy of immigration and refugees and so it felt quite timely.

BOTTOM LINE: I definitely liked this one enough to continue the series. If you read it, just be prepared for the fact that it's much more about developing Wallander's character than the mystery itself and so it's not a fast-paced thriller.