May turned out to be kind of an eclectic reading month.
It started with Icelandic crime novel, The Silence of the Sea, which tells the story of a luxury yacht that crashes into the harbour in Reykjavik, with the crew and passengers having mysteriously disappeared. A local lawyer is asked to look into the case and uncovers a web of deceit, fraud and mayhem.
I’ve reviewed this one in more detail already, but it was a creepy, atmospheric read and I really enjoyed it.
Next up was A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt, another crime novel, this time set in pre-WW2 England. After a murder and double suicide in the country home of a wealthy family, the police believe everything is in order. But when Inspector Given is sent to tie up a few loose ends, he suspects that there might be something else going on.
I was sent a copy of this novel by the publisher and didn’t know much about it, but I found it to be an engaging crime thriller with a depth that I wasn’t expecting. Early in the book we see Inspector Given at the execution of a man who was involved in the death of a Jewish shopkeeper. Later on we learn that he is from a Jewish family, with relatives stuck in Nazi Germany, unaware of the storm that is about to be unleashed. The backstory here is very well drawn and detailed, so it’s easy to imagine this becoming a future series with Given at its heart.
It also manages to balance the period setting with a darker undertone that you don’t typically find in crime novels from that era.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was a random book I picked up in Tesco one lunchtime, at the same time as I bought The Silence of the Sea. It follows an Australian army doctor who has a passionate affair with his uncle’s wife, before going off to fight in World War Two. He ends up in a Japanese POW camp, where his medical rank makes him the leader of a band of prisoners who suffer through unimaginable atrocities, before returning home after the war a national hero.
After a slow start, I really fell for this book. I read it around the same time I went to the theatre to see an adaptation of Birdsong, and couldn’t help but note the similarities between the two stories. But where the romance in Faulks’ novel was always a bit overwrought, this love affair between Dorrigo Evans and his uncle’s young wife, Amy, is sensual without being overplayed.
Although this affair is an important part of the narrative, as it is so central to Dorrigo’s life and character, much more of the story is spent in the POW camp and, at times, the book is incredibly difficult to read. The author never shies away from descriptions of the soldiers: starving, ill with dysentery and malaria and worse, tortured, beaten and forced to work agonising hours on the Emperor’s railroad.
But this novel is beautifully written and powerful. It will certainly stay with me for a long time.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I decided to revisit the second Bridget Jones novel, The Edge of Reason, as I fancied spending the afternoon with a light-hearted book that I knew would pass some time quickly. This was my favourite of the Bridget Jones story – if you’ve forgotten, in this one she ends up in jail in Thailand after a series of relationship misadventures with Mark Darcy.
I haven’t read this for ages, so I really enjoyed catching up with Bridget and her antics. This never fails to make me smile.
Affiliate links included.
- The Silence of the Sea, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (read my review)
- A Shadowed Livery, by Charlie Garratt
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan
- Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, by Helen Fielding
N.B. I received a copy of A Shadowed Livery from the publisher for the purposes of review, but all opinions are my own. All other books purchased by me.