I’ve been getting back into reading lately and it’s awesome. It’s the only thing capable of completely quieting my mind and taking me out of my head. Fiction works particularly well, but I have to admit that I’m very difficult to please. Here are the fiction books that I’ve enjoyed lately.
A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
Mr Heming is a respected estate agent who has made a copy of the key to every house he has ever sold. He’s a voyeurist (he calls himself an observer) and he has the creepy habit of cataloguing the contents of the houses when the owners are out. This is his story. I wanted more suspense and I was disappointed that Mr Heming was sloppy and unsympathetic for all the wrong reasons. There was also a character who I wanted to get to know better. Despite this, it was an enjoyable read.
Shadow Family by Miyuki Miyabe
The body of a middle-aged office worker is found on a construction site. A murder investigation ensues and it’s quickly discovered that, unbeknownst to his family, he had a shadow family online – a pretend family created in chat rooms. The man’s real life teenage daughter tells the police that she’s being stalked. Most of the plot takes place in a police interrogation room and the dialogue is superb. Things get stranger and stranger in this clever, quick read full of pleasing twists.
She Who Was No More by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
Travelling salesman Ferdinand Ravinel and his lover plot to murder his wife. They carry out their plans and all seems to go perfectly until the body disappears before it’s discovered. Very strange things start happening. Is Ferdinand losing his grip on reality? The French psychological thriller Les Diaboliques (1955) is based on this book. The original story is significantly different from the film but I highly recommend both. This is French Noir at its best.
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
A group of nihilistic thirteen-year-old boys secretly reject the adult world and spend their time talking about how they are superior to adults on various, stupid grounds. (I hate them for reasons that become obvious when you read the book.) The mother of one of the boys meets a sailor and they fall madly in love. At first, the boys idealise the sailor but they soon decide that he’s soft, and therefore deserves to be punished. A beautifully written, vicious tale about loss, grief and finding your place in the world. I picked this little book up because it was one of David Bowie’s favourites and I don’t regret it for a second. It stays with you long after you finish it.
Confessions by Kanae Minato
Yuko’s four-year-old daughter was murdered by two of her students, although officially, it was labelled an accident. Consumed with grief, she has decided to resign but before she leaves, she has one final lesson to teach her pupils. A gripping novel about the dark corners of the mind, vengeance and the struggle of coming of age. I loved the alternate narration and all the brilliant twists. The film from 2010 is great too.
Now what about you? What have you been reading lately?