Sunday, March 31, 2013

What One Book . . .

     The late great political pundit William F. Buckley was once asked what one book he would bring with him if he was stranded on a desert island. He shot back his response:  a book on shipbuilding.

     As a rule I don't recommend books to people, because if they're like me, they have more books on their to-read list than they'll ever get to.  

     Nevertheless, a friend recommended a new writer last week, and I have to pass on the tip. Well, she's new to both B and me, but she's not brand new. She published her first book in 2007 and has four books out in all -- still, she's new compared to the likes of Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly or Sue Grafton, each of whom has over two dozen books to their credit.

     Her name is Tana French and she currently lives in Ireland. Her father is an economist who worked in resource management. He did extensive traveling all around world and often brought his family with him. French was born in the United States, but also lived in Ireland, Italy, Malawi and elsewhere. She has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Italy.

Colaiste Na Trionoide, Baile Atha Cliath (Trinity College)
     Tana French went to Trinity College, Dublin, and trained as an actress. She appeared in several plays, then did voiceovers, before "finding her bliss" as a writer of mysteries and psychological thrillers. Her first book In the Woods won several awards including the 2008 Edgar Award (named after, who else? ... Edgar Allen Poe) for best first novel.

     After our friend casually recommended Tana French over the dinner table, B brought home two of her books from the library. B is now reading Faithful Place, and I just finished the author's most recent work Broken Harbor.

     Broken Harbor features Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and his rookie partner Richie Curran, who are investigating the murder of a family in a new but never finished housing complex outside of Dublin, in the wake of the country's recent economic collapse. I'll admit the book is a bit "talky" and perhaps a bit too long at 450 pgs. (B says I complain that every book I read is too long). But the dialogue is sizzling and the story is riveting. There are a few extraordinary plot twists -- but as a reader you believe them because the writer has the talent, and has taken the care, to draw out her characters as real people who sometimes do crazy things.

     Anyway, I can't wait to read Faithful Place -- if B will just hurry up and finish it! Otherwise, I'll have to download it onto my kindle.

     And if you're about to be abandoned on a desert island (for spring break maybe, or your retirement home?) you could do a lot worse than bring along a Tana French mystery to keep you company.



DJan said...

I read In the Woods and enjoyed it, although I am not much of a mystery reader. I'll peruse her other ones based on your recommendation. Thank you! :-)

Douglas said...

Tom, I have discovered Project Gutenberg: a website where you can download free copies of pretty much all the classics and more. My book list runneth over... It offers them in EPUB, Kindle, HTML, PDF, and text formats. Just finished "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".

Olga said...

Thank-you for the recommendation. I have been a mystery fan since my Nancy Drew days.

Stephen Hayes said...

I wish I had this book with me on my recent flight home from New Delhi. It would have helped pass the time.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

HaHa you are right, I have more books than I need but never as many as I want. I am a drunk when it comes to books.

Speaking of which, the WP had a great review of a new book....Drunken Botanist. Sounds like my kind of book, although resource management is also a favorite topic (and history). I am especially keen on books about water usage.

I don't do mysteries much anymore. Besides, i don't like male dectective writers as much as female detective writers. Sorry, that's my bias.

Tell Stephen Hayes he needs a Kindle. He could have ordered a book from the airport. Dianne

Halina Goldstein said...

What one book if stranded on an island? My answer has changed a few times along the road, which only proves that I haven't found THE book yet. :-)

There are many people who have been hit by one of life's major storms (such as the loss of a spouse) and whose life feels like being stranded on a desert island... in that case writing your own book might be the best solution. As in journaling...

Meanwhile I'm adding "Broken Harbor" to my "to read" list. :-)

Kindly -


Kay Dennison said...

Thanks!!!! I'm adding her to my never-ending "gotta read" list!!!

Mac n' Janet said...

I've read all of her books and think she's an incredible writer, eagerly awaiting her next.

Friko said...

My pile of ‘unreads’ is ever growing. Still, I like a mystery and haven’t read a decent one for ages. Thanks for the recommendation.