Comment • reviews • Nordic Noir • whimsy
Today we have Louise Voss tidying the shelves and grappling with the Dewey Decimal system (no Library of Congress numbering round here) and, more interestingly, opening the portal to her Secret Library. Regular visitors will know that this is a feature where writers nominate books they love that aren’t as widely known as they should be. Louise’s own new novel, The Old You, is described both as modern domestic noir and a tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller. Check out the reviews on the blog tour at the bottom of this post – but not before we reveal her three choices:
The Likeness by Tana French. I discovered Tana French a few years ago and she is one of those authors whose prose I could just read endlessly. There’s something about her turn of phrase that is so incredibly evocative, and she makes me want to be a much better writer. Also, the reason I’ve picked The Likeness is because she stretched my suspension of disbelief to the absolute limit and yet at no point, as I might have done with other titles, did I want to chuck the book against a wall in disgust. The central premise is so far-fetched that you think she can’t possibly carry it off – and yet she does. The Likeness is about French’s central protagonist, a female undercover cop, who by coincidence looks so much like the victim of a recent murder that the police pretend the woman wasn’t killed, only injured, and send the cop in to live with the dead girl’s four close friends, assuming her identity. Sounds utterly ludicrous, doesn’t it? But I thought it was brilliant and it showed me that you can get away with anything in fiction, as long as you write it plausibly enough. I have a terrible memory for plots and storylines as I read so many books – but this one really stayed with me.
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. I’ve included this one because, as I mentioned before, I have a lot of trouble recalling details about specific books, but I don’t think a book has ever made me laugh out loud as much as this one did (with the possible exception of one of Bill Bryson’s early ones). Plus, the main character, Audra, is so like my ex’s sister that it made me laugh even more. She’s an incredible creation and I think we probably all know a woman like her: loving and annoying and funny and flawed. As the late (and much-missed) John Harding wrote in his Daily Mail review of it: “Katherine Heiny’s debut novel is not only one of the funniest books you will ever read, but true and poignant, too. And Audra is one of the most memorable characters ever to leap from the pages of a book.”
For my third book I’ve picked The Keeper by Johana Gustawsson. This is the second in Gustawsson’s Emily Roy and Alexis Castells series, and I don’t believe you could read a better crime novel. It doesn’t put a foot wrong, but what gives it the edge over so much other crime fiction is that every aspect of it is innovative and fresh, from having the criminal’s lineage stretch right back to Jack the Ripper, to the two female lead investigators being not cops, but a profiler and a true crime writer, to having so many different points of view from characters who are all brilliantly well-rounded. On top of that, it’s about as dark as they come, with a plot tight as a duck’s backside.
It’s the first time we’ve had a choice described as ludicrous! Thanks a lot Louise. You can get The Old You here or if you want to know more first, check out the rest of the blog tour.