RARA-AVIS: Re: the Alienist/historical HB

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 15 Jan 2002

MikeR wrote:

>i struggled to get thru _the alienist_. i guess it was a good book but >it
>just didn't do much for me. too much of a sense of drama on his >part and
>too much apathy on mine.

I can see that, though I did think the book was decent. There's always a risk of trying too hard with that high style

>i haven't read mark graham's books. why did you not like the series?

Good concept, mediocre execution. Too many unnecessary plot twists and not very compelling characters.

a few other historical HBs that occurred to me -
"The Bottoms" by Joe Lansdale (East Texas in the Depression; frankly I thought it was a pastiche of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and various Faulkner novels with a lame serial killer plot thrown in, but most people seem to love it);

"River of Darkness" by Rennie Airth (British police inspector recently returned from WWI combat) - haven't read this so I don't know if it's any good;

Charles Todd also writes a series with a similar premise to the Airth book; not sure how HB they are overall but I read the first in the series "A Test of Wills," which was at least on the grisly side for an English village mystery; the "hook" I guess is that the hero is actually suffering from shellshock and has internal conversations with a private who died under his command; I *think* this is supposed to be psychological rather than supernatural. Anyway, I get the impression the series has evolved in a fairly hard-boiled direction - to me it was just weird, but I keep seeing rave reviews for the more recent books in the series. Either they've gotten better or I just didn't get it.


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