Good Reading : March 2017
GOOD READING MARCH 2017 41 CRIME / THRILLER WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG Little Deaths Emma Flint It’s 1965 in Queens, New York. It’s hot and stifling, and one morning Ruth Malone wakes up to discover her two young children gone. Police investigate and soon discover the body of the youngest child. Some time later the body of the second child is found. Suspicion immediately falls on Ruth, a cocktail waitress separated from her husband. She’s had a string of lovers, an alcohol problem and she wears provocative clothing. And there are no tears from her. The police are convinced Ruth is guilty and they relentlessly pursue her. Meanwhile rookie reporter Pete Wonicke, a small-town boy lost in the big city, immerses himself in the malicious neighbourhood gossip and the biased police investigation about Ruth. He is fascinated, however, by her brittle beauty and eventually becomes totally obsessed with proving her innocence, even though she refuses to even talk to him. Her silence seems to only fuel his obsessive quest to save Ruth from herself as much as from the police, the media and the general public. Little Deaths is a story that is difficult to war m to. It’s undoubtedly fascinating and ultimately horrifying, but it is not a tale to enjoy. There always remains a distance and a coldness at its core. The horrifying story is told in flashback from the prison where Ruth is serving her sentence, but is she really guilty? Thankfully there is an answer at the end and you are not left wondering. The revelation is awful, but in truth it’s difficult to really care about the plight of these people. The per iod re-creation and the suffocating neighbourhood atmosphere are done well, but the characters never really come to life. Ruth remains an enigma, despite attempts to give her depth by telling parts of the story from her perspective. Pete is just too naive to be credible, and the story of guilt by appearance is tragic but far from new. ★★ Picador $29.99 Reviewed by Tessa Chudy The Wrong Side of Goodbye Michael Connelly Harry Bosch’s second case as a private detective, after leaving the LAPD, involves chasing down a possible long-lost heir to a fortune. He is retained by aviation billionaire Whitney Vance who, when he was young and carefree, had a fling with Vibiana Duarte, a beautiful Mexican girl. Vance deserted her soon after she became pregnant and now he regrets his cavalier behaviour and wants Bosch to see if there is any surviving issue from the long-ago relationship; if there is, then any such heir will inherit Vance’s billions. Bosch is also working part-time for the San Fernando PD, looking at cold cases. He’s investigating what appears to be a series of rapes committed by a felon they call the Screen Cutter. As Harry goes looking for Vibiana and any of her heirs, he tracks down one dead-end trail after another. Just as he thinks he may have a really solid lead, the Screen Cutter strikes again, although this time the intended victim fights him off and scares him away. Harry asks his work partner, Bella Lourdes, to return to the scene of the latest Screen Cutter strike because Harry thinks they may have missed a vital piece of evidence in their initial search. The Screen Cutter kidnaps Bella, and Harry must pull out all stops to find her before she is killed. This tale starts off as a slow burn but both cases suddenly ratchet up the pace and pressure as Bosch’s darker side comes to the fore. A few plot threads could benefit from greater development than they were given but, that aside, this is cracking vintage Bosch. ★★★★ Allen & Unwin $32.99 Reviewed by Leslie Lightfoot any of her heirs, he tracks down one dead-end trail after another. Just as he thinks he may have a really solid lead, the Screen Cutter strikes again, although this time the intended victim fights him off and scares him away.