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Posts tagged ‘murder’

Enter Three Witches

Cover art for Enter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney.

Image via Scot’s Blog.

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Barney’s Version

Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler

Image via Fantastic Fiction.

Title: Barney’s Version

Author: Mordecai Richler

Year of Publication: 1997

Genre Keywords: CanLit, comedy, family, Jewish humour, Judaism, marriage, murder, romance, satire, unreliable narrator.

Summary: It’s been said that whoever we are and however we live our lives, we’re always the villain in somebody else’s retelling of the story. Barney Panofsky, thrice married, has been accused of all kinds of terrible things in his time, including the murder of his best friend, Boogie. Now, estranged from the only woman he’s ever truly loved and drawing towards the close of his life, Barney decides to document – with no little sense of humour and a voice that jumps right off the page – his version of events. Wryly he recounts each of his three marriages, to creative and unstable feminist martyr, then a high-class and high-maintenance Jewish American Princess, and finally to his beloved Miriam. But the question of whether his narration is reliable hangs over the entire text. When he swears he never shot Boogie, can we trust him to tell us the truth?

Who’ll Love It: A narrator as unstable and unreliable as Barney Panofsky isn’t someone you’ll enjoy if you want your stories to progress in a strictly linear fashion and nail down the facts on all sides. That’s a pity, though, because he’s a blast to read. Fans of irony and subtle satire will enjoy Richler’s observations about life in the Quebecois Jewish community, referendum-era Montreal, and the family state in general. And if you’re interested in trying to figure out a mystery, the question of what really happened to Boogie remains up for grabs throughout most of the story.

Real-World Parallels: This is what it must be like to live in New York. Throughout the novel, references to Canadian news stories – from Trudeaumania to the 1995 referendum – brought the thrill of recognition to my reading. And that’s to say nothing of the little, everyday references to things that are part of Canadian life, like Hockey Night in Canada or the CBC (Radio-Canada to the Quebecois). Once I even recognized a street name from time spent living in Quebec! It’s icing on the cake for Canadian readers picking up Canadian books, and one of my personal favourite perks of CanLit: it gets where I’m coming from.

Good Night, Sweet Angel

Cover art for Good Night, Sweet Angel by Clare McNally

Image via Amazon.

Title: Good Night, Sweet Angel

Author: Clare McNally

Year of Publication: 1996

Genre Keywords: afterlife, child in danger, ghosts, haunting, murder, parenting, possession, psychological thriller, supernatural, suspense, thriller.

Summary: After her abusive ex-husband dies trying to get revenge on her and her daughter, all Jenn Galbraith wants is a new start. But that won’t be so easy. Evan’s angry spirit is searching for them from beyond the grave, wanting above all to get revenge on Emily for telling the truth about her father’s abuse. Emily has one ally in this supernatural battle – a ghost-child called Tara. But Tara isn’t always a nice friend; she can be capricious and mean-spirited, and she’s causing Emily some trouble. But surely it can’t be greater than the trouble Emily would be in if her father got to her . . .

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who likes a genuinely creepy ghost story will be enthralled by this one. Tara’s ghost leaves nobody at peace; even minor characters feel her wrath in the form of strange hauntings during a Thanksgiving visit. And don’t forget to look out for strange side characters like Laura, the fifties-throwback housewife, her creepy fieldhand, and her troubled son. It left me inspired by its perfect blend of paranormal phenomena and real-world creepiness.

A Touch of Romance: Most of the book’s emphasis is on the fear factor of a malevolent haunting, but even that leaves time for a single mother to find love. What’s noteworthy is how   lovable her beau really is! Nick Hasken is an all-around sweetheart, a science professor with a love of karate, ballroom dancing, and really nerdy ties and T-shirts. Even more refreshing, he’s not your average bodice-ripping muscleman from the cover of a Harlequin romance. He has a bit of a belly, an awkward sense of fashion, and ever-present chemical stains on his skin from the science lab. But I’ve rarely found a love interest so endearing in any book I’ve read! (To carry the point forward, the evil ex-husband is repeatedly described as “handsome”. Looks really aren’t everything here!)

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