Monday, July 28, 2014

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh: Read This If


I admit, I requested The Weight of Blood purely based on its title. Well, okay, not purely - its title coupled with the fact that it's set in the Ozarks, a nearby region that's always intrigued me. What do people do out there, anyway?

Apparently, a whole lot of nothing good. That's not to say it's all bad, but the meth and other trafficking are rampant among those that have too much control in the communities. The Weight of Blood is a powerful debut novel by Laura McHugh, a self-described insider-outsider. Those from the Ozarks don't like outsiders, and outsiders can never understand native Ozarkians, not really. Lucy, the main character is also a little bit of an insider-outsider herself, having been born to a mother from Iowa (might as well be France) and a father native to Henbane, the small town in which Lucy grows up after her mother disappears mysteriously when Lucy is only a year old.

The novel opens with another mystery, the murder of one of Lucy's high school friend/acquaintances, a girl that had disappeared a year earlier. What follows is intense like a hot, humid Midwestern summer - slow, lurid and burning.

You should pick up this novel this summer if:
  • You're looking for an atypical read perfect for the waning heat of summer.
  • You like well-paced and -plotted reads. 
  • You like mysteries but are not necessarily a fan of the crime fiction genre. 
  • Your have been listening to "Cruel Summer" on repeat for days. 
You may want to skip this if:
  • You have some trigger issues (trigger warning). 
  • You can only be pulled in by Dan Brown pacing.
  • You prefer to remain blissfully unaware of what might be happening outside your urban fortress.
  • Your soundtrack to Grease is stuck on "Summer Nights."
 *Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for a complimentary ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: Read This If


If you've been having a little Gatsby withdrawal this summer, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell may be just the novel to quell your roaring 20s thirst. We've got speakeasies, bobbed hair and self-entitled young adults with a dash of murder, and (here's where the similarities depart) possibly a side of Fight Club, but that's up for debate. (Any takers?) 

Rose is a self-righteous, uptight and rather clueless young woman working as a typist in a New York City police precinct. As such, she's privvy to gruesome details of all sorts of heinous crimes. Life continues along, until the glamorous Odelie joins the complacent group of typists, raising havoc with her mysterious, confident, modern nature. Rose, despite herself, is easily drawn into Odelie's bootlegging, back alleyed, money-is-no-object world, and gets to know a side of herself she can barely admit to having.

Overall, it's a quick, captivating read, even if ambiguous in the end - but that can be half the fun, right? 

You should read The Other Typist without further ado if:   
  • You feel you should have been born a century earlier.
  • You're looking for something that resembles noir but isn't quite.
  • You like unique takes on familiar subject matter. 
  • You don't mind strong, possibly amoral, female characters. 
  • You prefer The Third Man to The Thin Man. Or not. Perhaps your in a The Third Man kind of mood.
You should not read this if:
  • You prefer your novels to be lighthearted and wrapped up with a neat little bow at the end.
  • Your misogyny has got you down.
  • "Moody" should describe your cantankerous coworker but never novels or films.
  • You just can't imagine a world without the internet. 
  • You've never even heard of The Third Man or The Thin Man
I did have the pleasure of meeting Ms. Rindell at a lovely event in, as luck would have it, an old city police station, and she's just delightful. I'll be looking for her next book, which is rumored (by her) to take place in the village during the beatnik era. 
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