In sleep debt and haven’t had time to write reviews like I’ve wanted to the last few weeks so here are a few things I’ve read lately…
In the Cut ****
It’s tough to talk about this one. The writing is superb, bordering brilliant. The scenes are rich. The ending…good but not good? I don’t know. I liked it a lot but I can’t really say why except to say it’s well-written and thrilling. Erotic in a messy way. It addresses the way physical attraction can drive us to destructive behavior. It falls just short of greatness and maybe that’s my beef. But it shouldn’t be a beef. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.
The Papers of Tony Veitch ***
This is yet another series where I’m going to want it to be something it’s not and I’m never going to enjoy it in a way that I feel like I should. Love the main character of Laidlaw and the 70s Glasgow setting. Like the dialogue. But the alternating chapters bit doesn’t work. McIlvanney is trying to make a broader commentary on Scottish society. I appreciate it but that, combined with the stilted plotting and weak characterization makes it difficult to engage with or really appreciate.
Angel’s Tip ***
This just barely crosses the 3-star threshold. Like by the slimmest of margins. I was hoping Alafair Burke would evolve a little with book two in this series but instead, there are more cliches and a boring Diabolical Serial Killer. It was cruising to 2-star territory but Burke is really good at seeding her twists. I probably should have seen this coming but I was still surprised when it happened. So it gets there for me. But barely.
The Devil In Her Way ****
The Devil She Knows was one of the best books I’ve read this year and while this one isn’t quite as good, it’s still really good. Moving the action to New Orleans, Bill Loehfelm takes a bird’s eye view of the city, mostly staying away from the Quarter in favor of examining the rest of the city broken by Katrina.
Something Loehfelm does well that I’m often critical of for white writers, specifically white men, is write good non-white, non-male characters. Maureen feels like a fully realized person; Loehfelm doesn’t spend lengths of time talking about her anatomy or how hard it is to find a decent man. She wasn’t Born Sexy Yesterday. She’s a real human with real issues and a real personality. The people she interacts with, mostly Black, feel like real people, not reduced to the basest form of stereotyping.
The mystery didn’t grip me enough to get it to 5 but this is a good entry the series, with the groundwork laid for more.