You're so right Jacqui - desperately needed an edit - but I thought worth the sometime slog for the central female character - she's interesting. But then I finished it and did wonder why the rave is missing for authors like Karin Fossum or Karin Alvetgen, et al.
I recently finished the third book of the "trilogy," "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest," and what I realized was that if you're going to read one, you have to read them all, to really get the "big picture." The movie of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a lot more condensed and quick---because it leaves out so much that is really the basis for the novels. Stieg Larsson really did have a political conscience---the books address the issues of civil liberties, cover-ups, abuse of power, turning the tables on abuse, etc. That's why they've been so acclaimed---that and a most unusual and original heroine, who becomes a living symbol, an avatar for justice. They're not always easy to read, because the real messages ARE buried in those long, slow passages, where the author talks at some length about Swedish democracy.
I am reading Grisham's A Painted House, but I am more interested in his An Innocent Man. Why? Because it is, according to the back cover, his "first work of nonfiction." Years ago I read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision, about Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret, who was convicted of killing his wife and children. Unfortunately when I read the three faction works, I had not yet planned my own attempt at writing a faction novel: the story of four Native Americans wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years, the past 16 years of which they have spent incarcerated in federal prisons.
So now I must re-read them . . . because after having read Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction, I have so much to re-decide, beginning with whether I have chosen the best scene to begin the novel. The four protagonists are clear and have their own point of view. The antagonists' villainy is also clear, as is the mastermind of the villainy, the judge. Scandals and conflicts and emotions, both internal and external, are abundant. Tension for every page is possible. But is the internal change of the protagonists enough to spellbind the reader until the end of the book? After all, the protagonists will still be in prison . . . and whether the reading public will be compelled to cry out for the men's release is and will be unknown. And public attention to the men's plight caused by egregious flaws in both our society and law is the purpose of my proposed faction novel.
I hesitate to characterize the book as a true-crime account, because there was, I am convinced, no crime and certainly no evidence of any crime -- but the similarities do, indeed, exist.
Any suggestions or caveats from the members of this group?
Yes, the Innocence Project was, I believe, contacted by some women friends of the prisoners. But there was no crime and no DNA. There was a rope that came into the case, but the court did not allow the rope to be tested for DNA.
I, too, read Fatal Vision years ago. I do not recall whether I reached a firm conclusion about whether he did it or not. I do recall that I did not become impassioned that an innocent person had been convicted. That is unusual for me.
Recently MacDonald brought another appeal. I have no idea what the appellate court held.
Funny your reaction about Painted House. Am still wondering what the point of the novel is. Grisham's descriptions are great, but what is the plot? If it weren't Grisham's work I likely would have put it back on the bookshelf soon after I began reading it.
Heavens, I had almost finished a reply when we had a brown out. More condensed now. In APHouse, a murder was finally declared on page 101. A long time to wait. At least it has replaced the many word pictures of collecting cotton.
Formulas! Absolutely. The champion of formulas is Sue Grafton. She can almost copy one book and do Global Searches and Replace All for the names and places.
Will rush to send this now . . . in case another brown out!
Thank you, Margot. I had totally forgotten about Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. That will be a re-read. I'll take a peek at the others. Since Amazon does not send books to Costa Rica . . . except for $39 S/H a book, one of the women sponsoring the Indians sent me four books from England (and received only yesterday)-- Me Sexy, Lakota Woman, The Lakota Way. Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions -- and five disks about culture, religion, etc. So it will take a while to reach out to Didion, Wolf, and McPhee. But I shall try! Thanks again.
I just finished "The Likeness,"by Tana French. Has anyone else read this? I'd be interested in hearing what you think. First you have to accept the premise of a "double"---a likeness so uncanny and nearly perfect in every detail that a living detective can go undercover as a stand-in for a murdered girl whose identity at the time of her death is known to be a fiction. Once you accept this, it does become a gripping and suspenseful story. However, I still had some reservations. Tana French's writing is described as "unutterably beautiful," and she is often very compelling. Personally I had some problems with the narrative voice---the first person of Cassie Maddox, the undercover detective. On the one hand, she's a wise-ass, tough-talking, fast-thinking, foul-mouthed cop; but she often (too often) waxes sublimely and tragically poetic almost to the point of purple prose, until you want to say, Oh, cut it out and get on with the damn story. Maybe it's just the character---she's a real drama queen, rather full of herself as she analyzes every nuance of her own emotions and reactions, and I didn't really like her, or even find her as believable as Lisbeth Salander, who was fairly unbelievable EXCEPT within the context of her story. Salander seemed perfectly logical in context; Cassie Maddox did not. Also I didn't really like any of the other characters, either (maybe we're not supposed to) ---could not actually empathize with them on any level. Perhaps because they were so young and immature. The "confession" scene went on so long it was practically a novel in itself. Yet there are some wonderful passages--the basic theme of the novel is in fact a strong one--- that of the construction of identity and the search for a "place", for happiness in a mad, confused world, and the power of illusion, the NEED for illusion, makes a powerful impression.
I started that and discarded it, for pretty much the same reasons that caused your reservations (only more so). In the end (well, long before the end), it wasn't very interesting, and I didn't care what happened.
Oh, good! Then it wasn't just me! :) I read "In the Woods" and was kind of disappointed in that---but for different reasons, although I can't really remember. All through "The LIkeness" I felt as though the writer was showing off. Trying too hard to be a really good writer at the expense of the story itself. She couldn't just give Cassie Maddox her own voice---she had to overlay her own "poetic" inclinations. It interfered with the story and compromised the believabiity of the character. It's one thing for author writing in the third person to wax poetic, but first person---risky!
I misquoted the blurb though. It wasn't "unutterably beautiful" it was "utterly beautiful." Must have been one of those Freudian slips. If she had uttered less I would have liked it better. :)
Ah, hmm. Saw absolutely no sign of beauty. But then, I've been totally puzzled by the fanfare about Tara French. I think this may be an example of a reputation being made artificially. Sort of like the Emperor's New Clothes. There have been a number of authors lately who seemed to me to fall into that category.