Sunday, March 11, 2007

dark, gripping books which have darkly gripped me of late

I've read a few outstanding novels lately which are well worth your seeking out.

First, "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn. Stephen King said it was the most gripping dysfunctional family saga he'd read in thirty years, and I'm not about to disagree with him. I loved the unusual, very real heroine: a rejected child grown up who wrestles with the urge to cut herself and the need to win her icy mother's love... and in the background, there's a potential serial killer lurking about.

Next, "Falling" by Christopher Pike, which I devoured over the last day. I had never heard of C. Pike before, but it is now one of my major life goals to seek out and gorge upon his entire oeuvre. This is such an intelligent thriller, so rich with clever details and inspired plotting (one subplot could have been stretched out into a whole series if it had fallen into the hands of a James Patterson, but Pike's mind is so well-furnished he has no need to milk a conceit).

"Falling" begins with perhaps a not-entirely-original concept, but it takes off into unexpected territory:
The first sensation Matt Connor felt when he awoke that morning of all mornings was pain. For a long time he had come out of unconsciousness to a feeling of loss in his chest, and he had come to accept it as inevitable. It was ironic that the pain was quickly followed by a wave of love. Thoughts of her smile and hair caught forever in a yellow ray of sunshine. He still loved Amy Techer, always would, and he hated her more than words could say.

That morning was special because it was the start of the day Matt planned to fake his death and disappear from the face of the earth. A bold plan, and he was not by nature a bold man. yet Amy had changed him into something he was not.

Has anyone had Christopher Pike's baby? His genes (unlike most people's) truly should be carried on. (If he's gay, I'm sure we could find some worthy lesbians to co-parent).

And, speaking of authors I devote myself to seeking out, I also romped through "Slayground" by Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald Westlake). I so love Stark's noir antihero, Parker, and "Slayground" may just be my favorite Parker yet. Parker, a brutish thug, is trapped in a shoddy, closed-for-the-season amusement park after an armored car robbery goes awry. Why was this story never filmed? (The first Parker novel was made into the movie "Point Blank", with the perfect casting of Lee Marvin as Parker). It's crying for a film adaptation, screaming for it. God, I love Parker.


Balletmom said...

You have almost convinced me to read these authors' works...I have you to thank for Ian Rankin--but after dealing with my strange and not so happy relatives, I haven't the courage to read about anyone else's dysfunctional tribe. How do you do it?

Teksmissy (who spilled Diet Dr. Pepper on her keyboard, and now, alas, must change names because one little key is no longer working. Guess which one.)How's the sleep going?

Anonymous said...

Christopher Pike has also written a TON on YA thrillers, which is where I know him from.

Epiphany said...

Thank you for your book reviews, D.H. - you always have awesome recommendations!