As much as I enjoying reading, I think I may enjoy reading about reading or reading to find new books to read, just as much. I was reading the arts section of Canada's National Post newspaper last weekend and saw a story about Ian Hamilton and his new novel The Water Rat of Wanchai. Then I did a Google search on him and the book and was soon convinced that I had just discovered the next Stieg Larsson. Its possible that I am just responding to some good PR by the publisher and the buzz from a few bloggers but it has been fun telling people (several at work, the barista at Starbucks) that I had just discovered the next big thing in publishing and that in a year, everyone would be talking about Ava Lee (Hamilton's Lisbeth Salander).
My copy of the book just arrived from Amazon Canada and it looks like some of my reckless enthusiasm is warranted: "When the phone rang, Ava woke with a start." Not quite as good as "When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man." (Firebreak, Richard Stark, 2001) But still, a good start. I hope I actually read this book fairly soon. I don't want it to be like the current book I am reading, The Likeness by Tana French.
I heard about her debut novel, In the Woods, fairly early on - certainly before it became a big hit. So I started it but couldn't get past the prologue. Really hated that part. Seemed to drag on forever. (Longest two pages of my life.) So I put it aside and then all of a sudden Tana French had published two more critically acclaimed, prize-winning novels. My wife has read all three multiple times and I had only managed two pages. So after three or four years, I finally read In the Woods this past month. On a Kindle.
I find it hard to believe that In the Woods is her first novel. French is really, really good. Set in and around Dublin, French tells the story of two detectives from the Dublin Murder Squad (which does not exist - but wouldn't tee shirts with that name on it be really cool?) working a new child murder case on the site of an archeological dig where two children had vanished twenty years earlier. Oh, and one of the detectives was with the two vanished kids that day 20 years ago and was the only survivor of whatever happened that day (of which he has no memory). A long a brooding book - without a lot of action in it - but still quite wonderful. In a way, it is the Irish equivalent to Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Swedish police procedurals (the Martin Beck series). And so far, though I have only read a few chapters of it, The Likeness, her second book, seems to be even better than her debut.