I've had a period of "withdrawal" since Thanksgiving. When periods of stress and anxiety hit, I withdraw as much as possible into myself, avoid anything I can get away with, and read.
Unfortunately, my library is having some work done and the parking lot is full of building materials. When I arrived last time to return my books, I had to park in the neighboring parking lot, a minor inconvenience, because the worst was yet to come.
The fiction section was blocked off with yellow tape--you know, like what you see on television marking off a crime scene. A couple of sad-faced people were standing there looking longingly at the stacks. I was about to slip through the tape to get to the books, when someone said the section will be off limit for a month! My frustration left me stuttering. If I'd had a list I could have had one of the librarians pull the books, but I didn't and was so derailed that I couldn't even think of a single title.
None of this helped my general attitude or anxiety, but there are book bargains from various sources.
One of those bargains was Fellside, a one day offer for $3.29 (usually $13.99). I really liked The Girl with All the Gifts, and have had Fellside on my list for some time, so I was quite pleased to find that bargain.
Is there anyone who is not familiar with the plot? Heroin addict, fire, death of a young boy, conviction, prison, ghost? There are so many reviews that go into great detail about the plot, and I'm not going to give a synopsis here, just a few thoughts...
* I found Jess Moulson's conviction of murder hard to believe. Not that I think the judicial system always works well or fairly, but I couldn't see a murder conviction from the evidence. Of course, Jess does nothing to help herself.
* Fellside, the maximum security women's prison where Jess is sent, is aptly named. One meaning of "fell" is a barren moor, but older meanings of the word are distinctly malevolent: sinister, baleful, deadly, cruel. Even the "side" part of the name works well with the book's content and the idea of a parallel world. Fellside is a brutal place with plenty of corruption and violence among both the keepers and the kept. The prison story is distressing because I suspect that it has more truth than I want to think about.
* The astral projection into dreams and the ghost story...could have worked, but didn't really convince me. There was a twist in this portion, however.
* Although I sympathized with Jess, empathy was a little harder to come by because in some sense she didn't feel real to me. She was, in a way, almost a ghost herself; never a fully-realized person.
I was a little put off from the beginning since Jess' conviction did not make sense to me. The book is too long, and although many scenes are suspenseful, they ended up feeling like filler. If the prison episodes had been condensed, the plot would have been tightened. The action does speed up toward the end of the book and some of the mystery of the fire is explained--but like most readers, I'd figured out most of it in the initial chapters. Waiting for hundreds of pages for the principals to figure it out was a bit annoying.
Was I expecting too much? I don't really believe so. I read The Girl with All the Gifts in 2014, and there have been so many books since then. Fellside wasn't my cup of tea, but it has pleased hundreds of others.
Mystery/Suspense/Paranormal. 2016. Print length: 485 pages.
I'm not sure how I missed The Sound of Broken Glass as Deborah Crombie's series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James is a favorite.
The Sound of Broken Glass is the 15th book in the series that began in 1993. Duncan Kincaid is taking time off to care for Charlotte, his and Gemma's foster child (this story is told in Necessary as Blood), so the main plot involves Gemma.
Gemma and DS Melody Talbot investigate the death of a respected (but not particularly liked) barrister found in a compromising situation in a hotel that the man has used for casual sexual encounters. Then another barrister is found murdered in similar fashion.
The case requires backtracking to an event 15 years earlier and is slowly unraveled through both interviews and flashbacks.
As usual, Crombie makes use of characters from previous books, but in a way that doesn't interfere with understanding the current book. I like the feeling of meeting familiar characters who have appeared in previous plots, and the way Crombie weaves them into the story in a purposeful way. Have to admit to being surprised at Melody Talbot's out-of-character behavior.
I read To Dwell in Darkness (#16), the next in the series last year, but Crombie has a new book scheduled to come in February.
Police Procedural. 2013. Print length: 531 pages.
Interesting that The Sound of Broken Glass is actually a little longer than Fellside--and did not feel nearly as long.
I have 18 book reviews scheduled for 2017--from January - June. One of the hazards of NetGalley is that you can read a book 6 months or more before publication. These are books that I've read since July of 2016--so I've been scheduling them for 6 months. All of these are already posted to Goodreads, but the blog posts are scheduled closer to publication.
Half of them are scheduled for January:
The Girl Before by JP Delaney
The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry
Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace * (beautifully written!)
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles * (great one-liners: "You're no fun on a road trip, Thelma"
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard
Stasi Wolf by David Young * (interesting look at East Germany in 1975; unique police procedural because of setting)
The three with asterisks are my favorites-of course, that's just my opinion, but for me they stand miles above the rest. Most disappointing was Brunonia Barry's The Fifth Petal. I really liked The Lace Reader, but found The Fifth Petal boring.