Two mysteries on the review docket!
Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published: January 6, 2015 by Doubleday Canada
You can’t get too far in a bookstore or on online book sites without noticing Hawkins’ debut mystery novel being promoted and pushed. In the case of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, I eventually succumbed to the major hype surrounded the novel. I bought it and was, I admit, totally hooked by the novel (as winding, twisted and disturbing as it is!). Unfortunately for The Girl on the Train, I was not as hooked. I have been having a difficult time pinpointing what it is that I didn’t like or what didn’t jibe…and I think it ultimately comes to characters and pacing. Hawkins did a good job, I think, of providing a few compelling curves and surprises (specifically with Megan). However, overall, I found the narrator- our unreliable narrator Rachel- to be a bit tedious and all too repetitive in making the same mistakes over and over again. The overall tone of the novel is also a bit flatly dreary; it’s one thing to have that overarching uneasy and creepy tone in a mystery, but this narration and story just felt joyless all over. Also, once I ‘figured out’ the ‘who’ behind the mystery, the eventual reveal and climactic moment did not pack the emotional punch I was hoping for. Perhaps if this novel had not been so heavily pushed and lauded I might have felt slightly less underwhelmed; as it was, I was hoping for something to wow and I am sorry to say it didn’t do that.
Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
Published: April 14, 2015 by Harper
Soon after my interest in mysteries/thrillers reemerged last year I read McCreight’s debut mystery Reconstructing Amelia. It was a more mild, sombre mystery than I was expecting, but I did enjoy it and looked forward to what McCreight would publish next. With Where They Found Her, McCreight has steered into the world of small town tragedy- a mystery centred around a seemingly idyllic college town. In some ways, it actually reminded me of Liane Moriarty’s great Big Little Lies– going behind the doors of married and divorced couples, the hidden lives of their children, their neuroses, and most of all, their tragedies and long-kept secrets. While McCreight didn’t manage to give all of the central characters multidimensional personalities (especially Barbara who was just terrifying and odd), it didn’t take away from my being pretty engrossed in the multi-narrative story- and trying to figure out how two interweaving stories and major characters were linked. I do think that Reconstructing Amelia was perhaps more nuanced, and allowed more time to evolve the major players and their conclusions. That being said, Where They Found Her is still a solid, readable mystery- not too intensive (despite its depressing subject matter) and carefully plotted. Overall, this was a well-done, easy to consume mystery, and if I could have, I probably would have read this novel in one sitting.