I don't believe I've ever read anything by Mo Hayder in the past, although I have her Birdman and The Devil of Nanking sitting on the shelf. Hanging HilI is Hayder's eighth book, a standalone novel that I chose based on superlative reader raves. Then when I read the dustjacket I was even more excited - a mother who is "forced into a criminal world of extreme pornography and illegal drugs," (!) and a detective's "crippling secret...which -- if exposed -- may destroy her" (!!) . So far, so good -- ooga chooga -- can't wait to get into it. Without the porn, maybe, this is the sort of thing that is right up my alley.
The story revolves around the worlds of two very different sisters: Zoe and Sally. They have been estranged for some time and their lives took divergent paths. Zoe traveled around the world on her motorcycle and went into the police force where she finds herself having to compete in a man's world. Zoe is the tough-as-nails type, has a fellow cop as a boyfriend and pushes herself to be even tougher. Sally married, had a daughter Millie, and lived the lifestyle of an upper middle-class, stay-at-home mom until her husband divorced her. Now she has a boyfriend named Steven, lives with her daughter in a cottage, works as a cleaner in a service, and most of her friends no longer talk to her. The main exception is Isabelle, mom to two of Millie's friends Sophie and Nial. Sally has to count pennies these days, so when she is offered extra work by one of her home-cleaning clients, David Goldrab, she takes him up on the opportunity. Goldrab is rich, but money doesn't change who he really is -- a lowlife who has made his fortune in porn and other seedy dealings. The sisters' two disparate worlds come crashing together, however, after the murder of Lorne Wood, one of Millie's friends. Zoe is handling the case, and when suspicion falls on one of Lorne's friends, Millie and her friends come in to Zoe's office to offer what they know. Their visit leads Zoe to think that perhaps its time to come to terms with Sally and make amends for the past -- but Sally by this time has her own set of problems, including how to pay back 4000 pounds Millie borrowed from a nasty drug dealer, and a confrontation with Goldrab that will change her life forever.
There are four one-word descriptions on the back of this book's dustjacket: "Terrifying," "Stunning," "Haunting," and "Disturbing." Sadly, the best thing I can say about this novel is that it's very accessible and reader friendly. I started this book in anticipation of experiencing all of the above adjectives throughout the hours it would take to read the book, but truthfully, I found the entire experience to be flat. There are way too many silly sideroad subplots here with holes the size of the Grand Canyon, the characters are just not credible, and the bottom line is that I didn't like it. Yet once again I'm swimming upstream of the rest of the book's readers who as a rule, seem to disagree with my opinion. If you go to a random reader review or go to Goodreads or Amazon, people LOVED this book and it was awarded with 4 and 5 stars in many/most cases. I may give her another try some day with the two books I have, but I won't be running to pull them off of the shelf any time soon.
crime fiction from the UK
Too bad you were disappointed. However, I can say that those four adjectives: Terrifying, Stunning, Haunting and Disturbing do fit with The Devil of Nanking.ReplyDelete
That book is really terrifying about the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937. It's the first novel I've read which shows the horrific character of the invasion and the level of cruelty imposed on the Chinese people. It's tough to read unless one has the thickest skin.
By the way, Black Skies doesn't disappoint. What a good book -- what a surprise! Not. Indridason consistently writes good books. No doubt. Can't wait to share it with friends.
I'll keep The Devil in Nanking in mind, Kathy, thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying Black Skies -- I thought it was good as well.Delete
Nancy - I'm so sorry you didn't like this. I always hate it when a book disappoints. Thanks though for the thoughtful and interesting review of it. Doesn't matter if you swim upstream either; to me, one of the least sound reasons for giving a book a good review is that everyone else does.ReplyDelete
That's okay, Margot! They can't all be good, right? And the nice thing about the reading world is that everyone has a point of view based on their own experiences.Delete
I agree with your verdict on this novel - too much like a soap opera for me. Pity, as the author has written some good books - Kathy mentions one (UK title Tokyo), the first 2/3 was excellent (then it got boring with a plot about Japanese hostesses). Her debut novel, Birdman, is one I'll never forget, what a book! And the one she wrote before Hanging Hill, Gone, is one I think is her best for ages. Yet she's written some substandard books too, notably the truly awful Pig Island. Mo Hayder is a very brave author who is not afraid to try any theme, but sometimes her plots are too "clever" and just don't hang together. Hanging Hill is untypical of her previous work in that it is much more mainstream and, er, "non-visceral".ReplyDelete
It was sort of soap opera-ish indeed! I'm happy to hear Birdman is so good so I won't give it away just yet. Honestly, I was expecting something quite different than what I got.Delete
My secret to reading The Devil of Nanking/Tokyo is that I skipped the part about hostesses. That was annoying. But the sections about Japan's invasion of Nanking is "terrifying" and "horrifying." The afterword is very good.ReplyDelete
Also, the book sent me to Google and learn about this very underpublicized horror of WWII in Asia.
It should be much more known.
" So far, so good -- ooga chooga -- " LOL Nice review.ReplyDelete
That's my personality leaking through -- I generally try to write the way I think! I'm probably the least sophisticated book reviewer I know.Delete