Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Girl on a Train

I listened to the audiobook for this one. The narrative follows the inner voices of three women, Rachel (alcoholic with a life in ruins), Megan (soon to be missing presumed dead) and Anna (proud owner of Rachel's ex-spouse). Each one gets a different narrator which really helps keep them separate in your mind and they do a great job immersing themselves in the roles. India Fisher doesn't really have a lot to do as Anna and sounds a little more disconnected than the other two. The male characters are understandably two dimensional in comparison to the female trio as they are realised entirely by the women's view of them rather than their own inner perspective.
The murder mystery that binds the three women is always secondary to the psychological themes; how people make presumptive judgements on other people's lives which are usually quite wrong and how we lie and construct masking personae to fool ourselves as much as others. A bit like the title of the book really. 'The Woman on the Train,' just doesn't sound as cool does it. But if there's a moral in here somewhere, 'never judge a book by its cover,' is as good as any.

Thursday, 14 May 2015


The tenth Nameless book starts out with our hero in a fair bit of financial difficulty himself. With no licence he has no income.His office is gone and worst of all he's had to fall back on his only way of making enough cash to feed himself, namely selling off some of his precious pulp collection starting with some of his less loved editions. But things are about to change. Ex-cop best friend Eberhardt has had a hand in getting Nameless' licence restored but not without asking for something in return. He wants to go into partnership. But Nameless is a lone-wolf.
His first case back involves tracking down a hobo (bindestiff) rider of the tracks. The trail leads to a town called Oroville in Butte County. It helps the book to be set in a real location, the local colour and history add a bit flavour to a fairly lifeless plot. The location moves on to the wine soaked Sonoma County, which Nameless cites as his ideal retirement location, though to my mind I doubt he'll ever have funds enough to finance such an end even if he was the retiring kind.
Not the strongest title in the series. Pronzini's plotting suffers from having to be played out by a small group of fairly two dimensional supporting characters.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye

Warning - this book contains a scene with cat-flinging.
Cat peril aside this was a pretty good sign off for the series. The six book series comes to an end. Although Enola will never push Flavia off her cosy perch there was plenty to enjoy following the young seeker of the lost. The books are short, cosy, amusing and lightly educational for young readers. Springer doesn't shy from disturbing the cosiness with darker edges from time to time and neither does she let Sherlock upstage Enola at any stage. Fans of Holmes would probably be sceptical about how easily he's outmanoeuvred or bested by his younger sister but I think it helps give the books an identity other than just another Sherlock Holmes pastiche. You could say that Enola is telling the story her way as maybe Flavia de Luce would have done but if you have read the series you'd know that Enola just isn't wired up that way.
All good things come to an end, Springer is on record saying that the series is definitely done, so so long and thanks for all the fun..