Mr. Reichenbaugh’s prose is slick and smooth, and his handling of Kent is unflinching; he is a bad man, with just enough saving graces to make us care as he tries to keep himself alive and out of jail, even as he thinks about hitting on the female detective who is investigating his case.
There are a ton of juicy plot twists in this novel, which I cannot reveal, and several characters,who seemed uninteresting at first, become essential to the story because of Mr. Reichenbaugh’s clever plotting. Kent’s wife Denise is particularly interesting, and relevant, but spoiler’s prevent me from saying too much. I can tell you that she is a every bit a classic noir character as Kent, perhaps even more.
All of this keeps building and building, as we see Ken, an accountant, sneaking through the streets of Phoenix, breaking into houses and firing guns, until we reach a slam-bang climax, violent and twisted as anything out of Pulp Fiction, which ties up all the ends we have known, and reveals a bunch that I had no clue about. It’s a particularly fitting, and grim end to a tale that I enjoyed, but didn’t really feel good about. That is real noir.
The Water Knife is a gripping novel, a futuristic noir thriller full of non-stop action, but it’s far more than that. The plot is tense, full of betrayals and double-crosses, and Mr. Bacigalupi’s prose stands up to the story. The world is full of depth and detail, with little touches that bring it to vivid life. The author has clearly done his research, but presents it in the best possible way, without ever getting preachy of being forced into dry exposition. Every locale, from the high-tech pristine arcologies to the most squalid and mean streets felt authentic and real.
This is a troubling and violent book as well. Mr. Bacigalupi doesn't shy away from the ugliness to which people will stoop when their lives, or the lives of people they love, are at stake. There are also people in this book who take every advantage of the collapse of order to simply take advantage of those who are weaker. While the violence is casual and explicit, there is a strong current of hope running through The Water Knife. In the face of so much ugliness Mr. Bacigalupi shows us characters who behave with dignity, kindness, and bravery in the worst possible circumstances. As the lives of the main characters overlap, each character grows, showing more and more depth the longer we see them. Each character is important and their tales interact in surprising and unexpected ways. The supporting cast is also well-rounded and fully-realized. By the end of this blood-soaked story the only real thing of which we are sure, is that each one will never be the same.
As I said this book requires some patience; the pace is deliberate, and I found myself flipping back quite a bit to properly appreciate how some of the plot turns were set up. There are very few big gosh-wow! moments, and a lack of shocking scenes. A and Niamh are a little too hip, and Mr. Cantero is a bit too smart for that. Their reactions to what’s going on around them is classic post-modern hipster, and it’s quite refreshing.
All of this is part of a plan, and I really wish that I could reveal it, but I abhor spoilers. While the final revelations make sense I thought that they came a little later than I would have liked, so the end feels a bit rushed compared to the rest of the novel, and the climax felt a bit out of place, but I still enjoyed this unusual take on a classic tale, and I commend Mr. Cantero for his bold choices. Now I want you to do the same, and read The Supernatural Enhancements.
McGill’s first-person narrative helps keep the book grounded, even at it’s most chaotic points. His voice is insightful. revealing, and both wise and funny at the same time. The man is no saint, and he’s not a hero, but he has enough self-knowledge to look clearly at what he sees, and tell us the clear, unvarnished truth, warts and all.
Now and then, when the plot seemed ready to run off the rails, and the villains threatened to become cartoons Mr. Mosley’s assured prose brought the book back to earth with a few beautifully well-turned phrases. There were times when I felt that Mr. Mosley was just plain having a blast, using the genre’s cliches, then turning them inside-out, just because he has the nerve and the talent to do so.
In the end, after numerous plot-ends are tied up, McGill survives the final slam-bang action filled dramatic battle, bloody but unbowed, with his life more or less in order, and ready for his next case. Judging from And Sometimes I Wonder About You I will be there too.
Where Mr. de Muriel shines is in his creation of this world. The smaller characters all are well rounded, and the author clearly did his research, as he brings the time and place to life with well-placed details. I could feel the difference between the fog of metropolitan London and the smoky coal-filled air of Edinboro. Each locale, from the most grimey pub to the stately homes of the rich felt real. Mr. de Muriel’s love of Victorian fiction also comes through as he uses several tropes of the genre to solid effect. More impressively, Mr de Muriel accomplished this without burying me in details.
Equally evident was the author’s love of music, and musical lore and traditions. The life of musicians, and the people who make their instruments and all detailed with care and grace. Without giving away too much I can say that music plays a key role in every facet of how and why these crimes were committed, as well as providing the detectives with several key clues that keep their investigation from failing. It’s refreshing to see an author grasp and utilize a facet of a novel to such effect, and makes The Strings of Murder worth your time.
Reviews and Post by: Stacy Palm
It's Summer 2015! My most favorite thing about summer - summer reading books! Our local library has kicked off it's annual Summer Reading Contest and so the pile of books next to my favorite spot has increased dramatically. For me, summer reading is about finding fun, quick reads that are light and enjoyable. Three books I read this week are listed below, and in order of preference.
Once that Lucas and his daughter get to the house things go from bad to worse with alarming frequency. The two barely speak, they both see disturbing visions, and experience inexplicable phenomena, and their relationship is so fractured that they respond by withdrawing even further into themselves.
I won’t reveal any more, but as I said, Ms. Ahlborn has a deft touch with horror. She dosen’t club you over the head; she prefers a stiletto. This is a dark and disturbing story filled with a genuine sense of unease, and it works wonders as a novel of horror. I do think that anyone reading this book should know that it is unremittingly bleak. There is hardly a ray of light or a shred of hope to be seen. A lot of terrible, tragic events take place, and a lot of innocent people have their lives ruined or ended, in very bad ways. Also some of the plots twists and turns surprised me, while others were more obvious.
I don’t like to compare one novel to another, but this book holds a place in my reading list alongside Pet Sematary by Stephen King, and The Devil All The Time, not a supernatural novel, but almost certainly one of horror, by Donald Ray Pollock as books I admire, but recommend with a few reservations. This is powerful stuff, not for the faint of heart. That is part of what made it work for me. Ms. Ahlborn tells her tale, with guts and skill, and she doesn't stray from her convictions or pull her punches one bit. Within These Walls is a shocking, scary read, and I bet that that’s just what Ms. Ahlborn intended.
There is something extra special about this book, and it has a lot to do with the way it was conceived by Tiffany Schmidt. I will not ruin that discovery for you either, but make sure to read the acknowledgements at the end of the story which explains it's conception. Overall, this was a book that I'm so grateful it fell into my path, and I really recommend it for teens and adults.