Graham Hurley. Sins of the Father. UK: Orion Books, 2014.
Filling my gap in the life and career of Detective Jimmy Suttle, Devon police. On the personal side, this is the novel that reveals the death of his small daughter Grace and the beginning of his relationship with Oona. The brutal killing of a wealthy man introduces the severely dysfunctional Moncrieff family — Rupert, the controlling patriarch who died; the passive son Neil; the quiet daughter Hilary; son Ollie in distant Kenya; grandson Kennan in distant Spain. The massage therapist who attended Rupert is under suspicion. So Jimmy and his colleagues have at least two productive lines of enquiry to pursue, but lack evidence for their theories. Reports of mysterious visitors from Africa complicate the puzzle of motivation.
Then there's Jimmy's estranged wife Lizzie the journalist who must backtrack the chronology and details of what happened to Grace, in order to quell her unresolved demons. Mental health issues become prominent in both Jimmy's and Lizzie's investigations, issues that Hurley clearly wants to explore. Hurley is so engaging, so easy to read despite some of the unsavoury events encountered; empathy makes the difference. Since I've prematurely read the next book in the series (The Order of Things) I patiently wait for a new Jimmy Suttle (no signs yet).
"Clinically insane didn't belong in our family." (67)
"This city is full of fat white girls just begging for brown babies." (100)
"This is a therapeutic centre, Mrs Suttle, not a prison." (240)
"Chalk and cheese, the pair of them but a real kinship, a real blood thing." (243)
"Doesn't everyone get tormented by their relatives? Isn't that how life's really supposed to work?" (94)
"With the music you're never alone. It's always there, waiting for you." (338)
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
‒ Blaise Pascal
In the school of second chances she might at last get the opportunity to turn blind rage and helplessness into something else.
Like what? She lay on the bed, staring up at the single crack in the ceiling, the duvet tucked up around her chin, knowing she had no idea. More and more, hiding away like this, she was letting life treat her like the child she'd lost. She closed her eyes, summoning for the millionth time her last glimpse of Grace at the kite festival, the shot that Jimmy had caught on his mobile, the one the police had used at the press conference and later distributed to the media. Sun-browned legs. Pink sandals. The flower- patterned dress Lizzie's mum had bought her only the previous week. And that sweet, sweet grin. (24)
A patient refugee:
Musamba spoke excellent English. According to the duty Inspector, who'd talked to the Diversity guys, he was one of the area's longest-surviving asylum seekers. To date he'd managed to fend off the authorities for no less than nine years while he awaited permission to remain. On a number of occasions he'd been pressed for his country of origin but had always refused to impart either his nationality or even his date of birth. His excuse, which he was only too willing to share, was simple: if no one knew where he'd come from then there was no way he could ever be sent back. This chronic attack of statelessness had so far earned him a two-year prison sentence for refusing to cooperate, but eighteen months inside had simply hardened his resolve. (119-20)
Follow the money?
"What about the solicitor? You're telling me Moncrieff's changed his will?"
"That isn't clear. He certainly wants to. Has it actually happened? We're trying to check."
Houghton frowned than glanced across at Suttle. "But we've no proof this woman's telling the truth," she said. "She could be leading him on. It could be a hoax."
"And if she is pregnant, the baby could be her partner's."
"But either way, she's trying to make herself rich."
"Yes, boss. Which leads us to the key question."
"Which is?" Houghton looked from face to face.
"Easy." This from Golding. "What the fuck was the camera doing there in the first place?" (171-2)
Ruth Ware. The Lying Game. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2017.
The web we weave when first we start to deceive ... Ware has nailed it. Four school friends bonded by playing a lying game, their modus operandi for survival against fellow schoolmates and teachers. They are fifteen years old when they go a drastic step further, feeling compelled to take part in a criminal deed. Seventeen years later their secret is threatened with exposure when a body is unearthed on a lonely beach. They've rarely seen each other in the intervening years but had pledged mutual help when needed. The narrator is Isa, the civil service lawyer attached to her new baby Freya. Kate is the artist in the group, urgently summoning the friends to her father's old mill house ‒ beside that lonely beach ‒ where she has lived all along. Fatima the medical doctor has made the most dramatic changes in lifestyle; Thea is still the same brash, aimless soul.
Memories and guilt surface from the new threat. Then suspicion, anxiety, paranoia. Lies build, one after another. They dearly miss Kate's father Ambrose who had taught their school art classes and hosted them so many weekends. Flashbacks go to those idyllic days. Now, where is Luc, their childhood friend, adopted by Ambrose? Who is trying to blackmail them? Are some of the hostile nearby villagers involved? Because lying became ingrained habit, it's never certain whether the steadfast friendships will weather the approaching storm of police investigation. Isa, in particular, has to examine how lying to her partner Owen has permeated their relationship. Ware knows exactly how to raise the temperature of fear.
Instead, he pressed my fingers between his, a kind of clasp, as if we were promising each other something. (75)
He is standing near the water's edge, his silhouette a dark hulk against the moon -silvered waters—and he is holding a baby. (171)
I swallow it down, the confession that is rising in me. (223)
I shut my eyes, clench my fists. Please don't do this, don't make me start lying to you again. (236)
A different lifestyle:
"Times have changed, Thea. This isn't just a fashion accessory."
"Oh darling, come on. Wearing a hijab doesn't mean you have to be a nun! We get Muslims in the casino all the time. One of them told me for a fact that if you drink a gin and tonic it doesn't count as alcohol—it's classified as medicine because of the quinine."
"A, that advice is what's technically termed in theological circles as 'bullshit,'" Fatima says. She's still smiling, but there's a little hint of steel under her light voice. "And B, you have to wonder about the dissociative powers of anyone wearing a hijab in a casino, considering the Koranic teachings on gambling."
There is silence in the room. I exchange a glance with Kate and draw a breath to speak, but I can't think of what to say, other than to tell Thea to shut the fuck up. (59)
Escaping school to Kate's house:
We climbed over fences and stiles, jumped ditches, paying careful heed to Kate's muttered instructions over her shoulder: "For God's sake, keep to the ridge here, the ground to the left is bog. ... Use the stile here, if you open that gate, it's impossible to shut again and the sheep will escape. ... You can use this tussock of grass to jump the ditch, see, where I'm standing now? It's the firmest part of the bank."She had run wild on the marsh since she was a little girl, and although she couldn't tell you the name of a single flower, or identify half the birds we disturbed on our walk, she knew every tuft of grass, every treacherous bit of bog, every stream and ditch and hillock, and even in the dark she led us unerringly through the labyrinth of sheep paths, boggy sloughs, and stagnant drainage ditches, until at last we climbed a fence and there it was—the Reach, the waters glinting in the moonlight, and far up the sandy bank in the distance, the Mill, a light burning in the window. (94-5)
I've had jealous boyfriends in the past, and they're poison—poison to the relationship and poison to your self-esteem. You end up looking over your shoulder, second-guessing your motives. Was I flirting with that man? I didn't mean to. Did I look at his friend like I wanted some? Was my top too low, my skirt too short, my smile too bright?You stop trusting yourself, self-doubt filling the place where love and confidence used to be.
I want to phone him up and tell him that's it—if he can't trust me, it's over. I won't live like this, suspected of something I haven't done, forced to deny infidelities that exist only in his mind. (288)
I can't ever sleep again, completely. Not into that complete, solid unconsciousness I used to have before she came along, the state Owen seems to slip back into so easily.
Because now I have her. Freya. And she is mine and my responsibility. Anything could happen—she could choke in her sleep, the house could burn down, a fox could slink into the open bathroom window and maul her. And so I sleep with one ear cocked, ready to leap up, heart pounding, at the least sign that something is wrong.And now, everything is wrong. And so I can't sleep. (231)
Joe Ide. Righteous. USA: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
Strong feeling that I am not the right audience for this book. While I loved the predecessor called IQ, the characters in this tale were not as compelling. Isaiah Quintabe, known as "IQ" in the Long Beach 'hood, is still fiercely seeking answers to his beloved brother Marcus's traffic death. Then Marcus's former girlfriend Sarita hires him to protect her gambling-addicted sister Janine. Thereby, gang wars begin and trust me, you need a scorecard with a list of combatants. Leo is the Vegas loan shark, Balthazar his enforcer; Seb is the African genius of money laundering, Gahigi his enforcer; Tommy Lau is the veteran trafficker of human beings, Tung his enforcer; Manzo or maybe Frankie is the boss of the Locos gang, Vicente his enforcer. Oh wait, then there's the Chink (sic) Mob, Guijia and the Red Poles gang, the 14K Triad, and the homegirls gang. Yes, like that. Relentless vehemence and fights.
Ide has powered up the violence but subdued Isaiah's mojo. His prior easygoing relationship with erstwhile partner Dobson is fraught. The anticipated alleviating humour and zest are pretty well absent. Is a gang boss a credible moralist? Most annoying is the switching back and forth in time with no obvious sign, totally confusing the sequence and structure. Where was his editor? Suspense only kicks in at the eleventh hour and even then, a bloody climax with more guns and blood. Maybe one- or two-sentence lines are all that's needed to give the flavour. Gonna take me some convincing to try out a third novel, should it appear.
Balthazar was seven feet tall with a jutting chin and comatose eyes set under a Frankenstein forehead; his body cobbled together with parts from an orangutan and an office building. (12)
Rap music was pounding like it was trying to break a window and get out of the car. (18)
Music was playing, an African woman wailing like she'd lost her whole family. (62)
Gerald didn't hear him, talking with his mouth open, like a tree shredder full of garbage in there. (196)
Gunfire flashed beneath the car, the rounds hitting the girl in the shins. (203)
Dodson's head was about to rocket off his body and smash through the ceiling, the veins in his neck like night crawlers wriggling away from his pounding heartbeat. (275)
The cousins were wearing loud Hawaiian shirts and might have been the guys who played the ukulele at the hotel luau if it weren't for their lethal, remorseless eyes and the hands like hockey gloves stuffed with rocks. (283)
Mercy was a rare thing these days when the tiniest slight was seen as disrespect, and if you hit me with a fist I shoot you with an RPG. (297)
"I need to flow with the flow, kick up some waves, be what I be." (298)
It was hard to find your courage when you'd never seen it before. (324)
She tried to get the gun out, but Gerald kicked her a couple of times. She doubled up, groaning. (197-8)
Flaco was ten years old when a gangster's bullet hit him in the head. He was left with a paralyzed leg, halting speech, and a brain that struggled and stuttered. (272)
My woman, my baby," Dobson said. "You ain't got shit to say about it." (283)