Having read Hobgoblin’s description of “naked book lust”, I went in search of some delectable offerings at my local online merchant. Can’t resist sharing two of their best-selling offerings (rather cynically I’m afraid).
Shatter by Michael Robotham
Synopsis: A naked woman in red high-heeled shoes is perched on the edge of Clifton Suspension Bridge with her back pressed to the safety fence, weeping into a mobile phone. Clinical psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin is only feet away, desperately trying to talk her down. She whispers, ‘you don’t understand,’ and jumps. Later, Joe has a visitor – the woman’s teenage daughter, a runaway from boarding school. She refuses to believe that her mother would have jumped off the bridge – not only would she not commit suicide, she is terrified of heights. Joe wants to believe her, but what would drive a woman to such a desperate act? Whose voice? What evil?
*snort* It has to be a naked woman in red high-heeled shoes doesn’t it? And the powerless clinical psychologist is a nice touch. Sorry, not for me – but the synopsis did make me laugh (unempathically I’m sure).
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
Synopsis: “When a careless plumber accidentally knocks through a wall, he is horrified by what he uncovers. Called to the scene is forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan. Fighting her claustrophobia, and the unmistakeable sweet, fetid odour of rotting flesh, Tempe descends the precariously steep, makeshift wooden steps. What awaits her below is a ritualistic display: slain chickens and a goat – and a skull, ghostly pale, rests on a pedestal, the lower jaw missing, the empty orbits starring back at her. The forehead is darkened by an irregular stain the exact red-brown of dried blood, and lined with remnants of desiccated tissue. Two cauldrons stand nearby, beads and antlers suspended overhead. Age, race and sex indicators confirm the skull as that of a young, black female – but how did she die, and when? Then, just as Tempe is working to determine the post-mortem interval, another body is uncovered. The corpse is headless, the torso is carved with Satanic symbols. Could there be a connection? Must Tempe face the sickening possibility that Devil-worshippers are sacrificing human victims?
Sorry, I is a book-snob (as Twakkie might say, before scratching his jean-pant and belching). My advice to Tempe (not named after the Bloemfontein military base I hope) is that sickening possibilities are best avoided, especially after lunch. Devil-worshippers – who needs them I say? We have enough greedy money-worshippers and look where that got us. Away, foul demons.
Another book I won’t be reading this month, but not through want of desire (or trying) is Netherland by Joseph O’ Neill. Had a quick look at ExclusiveBooks.com and nada, nyet and niks. Over at Random House the promo sound promising but Christopher Tayler, writing in the Guardian, was a bit less complimentary, calling it overly sentimental:
At times it’s hard not to wonder whether O’Neill, who’s the author of an admired memoir as well as being a long-term member of the Staten Island Cricket Club, might not have done better to write a memoir-essay on New York cricket. And when Hans starts spending time with the eccentric denizens of the Chelsea, some readers might worry about what Joan Didion once called New York’s “insistent sentimentalisation of experience”. Yet O’Neill’s take on the notion of the American dream is both unsentimental and cleverly attuned to that notion’s grip on the local imagination. Perhaps stories of striving immigrants and America’s ambiguous promise speak to New York reviewers on frequencies inaudible to outsiders. O’Neill has said that he wrote the book as “an American novel … My first novel as an American novelist”, and in this respect, he seems to have succeeded.
I still want to read it, and if Seachanges liked it then I imagine I will as well.