Monday, August 22, 2016

THE BOOK OF MURDER by Guillermo Martinez ✮✮✮✮✮

Whoa! I am not at all a reader of mysteries, but I knew my reading companion for this challenge enjoyed them, and since I’ll give any book a go, I agreed to read this book. I am so happy that I shared Rachel’s genre, because I LOVED this novel!

The premise of the book is fairly simple. Through a first person, book within a book narration. we learn about events that occurred ten years previously, when two authors, one our narrator, engage the services of the same typist, and their lives became intricately enmeshed. 

Initially, we meet the typist and hear her story and find it wholly believable. Then we hear the second author’s side of the story and his version begins to make us doubt that of the typist. As our narrator, the first author, begins to riffle through the stories in an attempt to bring his readers to a satisfyingly believable ending, the book takes a mind-bendingly radical turn, leaving the reader questioning the mental stability of both the typist and second author and juggling the niggling wonder in your own brain as to whether the truly fantastical third version could possibly be the truth the narrator wants you to end up with in the end.

When my reading buddy, Rachel, posted her review, she said she couldn’t wait for someone else to read the book so that she could discuss it. I totally see now what she meant. For book clubs that like to read international authors and expand their genre list beyond literary fiction, this would be a great selection.

This mystery by Argentinian author Guillermo Martinez is masterfully edited down to a tight plot spun in only 215 pages, which was a good thing for me, because I couldn’t put it down once I started it. I highly recommend this book, even if, like me, you aren’t generally a fan of the genre.

PROPHET OF BONES by Ted Kosmatka ✮✮✮✮

I am not much of a fan of sci-fi books, but I really enjoyed this one—probably because the sci-fi elements were very subtle, which for me made them feel more real. The main story line involves an archeological dig in Indonesia, where bones from a hitherto unknown species are found. The main character, Paul, suspects that there is something not quite human about the bones, but human enough to start trouble. By this point, the reader realizes that the current government in the United States is a very far right conservative one and that many issues involving freedom of speech, religion, and education are dealt with very differently than they used to be. Let’s just say that there is one faction that does not want word of these other human-like beings to get out. And then there is the group that plans to exploit this find for all its worth. Think Jurassic Park, and you get an inkling of where the book is headed.
While Kosmatka’s book lacks the sustained tension of Crichton’s work, if you enjoyed the premise of Jurassic Park I think you will enjoy this read. I am very fascinated by genetics and similar biology topics, so I found this novel, which includes three pages of biographical references that the author used to ensure his science was sound, an intellectually stimulating read as well as an entertaining one. That said, he never takes his research to such a point that the plot would drag for those who are not interested in the topic—I felt it was well-paced.

If you are a fan of scientific thrillers with a bit of a sci-fi bent to them, this is one I am confident you would enjoy.