jim thompson

R. I. P. VII – Completion

Just like last year I participated on the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril or R. I. P. VII hosted by Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings

I had chosen to participate on Peril the First level, where I had to read four books from any of the following the genres; Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror and Supernatural.

I managed to complete the challenge on the 31st of October, right in time for Halloween. 

Once again, I’d like to thank Carl V for hosting this challenge!

Completed Books:

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

2. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson.

3. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James.

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A wife goes missing. A husband is blamed. Fingers are pointed all around. Every little gesture, every little moment, every bump on the road is minutely analyzed. And in the end what are we left with? A place where almost all relationships reach a dead end, where psychotic maniacs are a dime a dozen and no one is really likeable.

Published in 2012, Gone Girl is the third offering from author Gillian Flynn after Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

The story unfolds from the points of view of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy Elliott Dunne. The entire book is divided into three different parts.

The first part, Boy Loses Girl, I’d say is the ‘skeleton’ of the story. The second part, Boy Meets Girl, fills in on the gaps left by Boy Loses Girl. In the final part, Boy Gets Girl Back (or vice versa), we find the whole story standing in front of us with the skeleton grinning from underneath.

Boy Loses Girl is definitely the most intriguing part of the book. With Boy Meets Girl, the story becomes more of a straightforward thriller. Boy Gets Girl Back is basically a continuation of Boy Meets Girl. It didn’t change my perception of the characters in any way.

Gone Girl reminded me of The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen and The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. Two points of view, an unreliable narrator and close family members under clouds of suspicion just like The Ninth Life of Louis Drax and a rather disturbing first person narrative like The Killer Inside Me.

Most of the major characters in Gone Girl are irreparably damaged people. The amount of time they spend messing with each others minds is unbelievable. If I had to live like that, constantly analyzing and/or be analyzed, I would go crazy!

The characters are all kind of one note. The mean and manipulative ones are just that, mean and manipulative. The weak ones are weak and the good are good. Just because they smoke, drink or curse doesn’t mean that they are multi-dimensional. Characters like Andie are there just to make a plot point. They are not well fleshed out and are faintly annoying.

I like books with unreliable narrators. It lifts books up from banality and adds an interesting twist to the proceedings. Gone Girl gives us a very fiendish unreliable narrator.

By Boy Gets Girl Back I kind of got bored with all the twists that were supposed to shock me. They are all screwed up people with serious problems. So they will act whatever way they want to. I was no longer surprised.

The book’s easy to read, which is I suppose a pre-requisite for all bestsellers. But at least it’s not banal or straight out stupid. Gillian Flynn has a way with words. I’d be interested in her other works Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

Overall, Gone Girl is a good psychological thriller. Good as an easy summer read.

30 Day Book Challenge

Day 25: Most Disturbing Book I’ve Ever Read

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson.

Maybe it was shocking when it was first published in the 1950’s but for someone who has read the modern day works in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre; the violence in The Killer Inside Me may not be a big deal. It’s all pretty tame when compared to modern depictions of violence.

What I found troubling was not the violence but the fact that I, the reader, actually had to see through the eyes of a psychopath. The first person narrative makes this book all the more disturbing. All that evil, stated so matter of factly by Lou, felt so very real.

What’s more is that Lou makes it all seem so rational. There are moments when one forgets how sick and twisted this man is. That is what makes this so unsettling.

Weekly Geeks 2011-19: Quotables!

Weekly Geeks this week asked us to share our favourite bookish quotes. We all have our favourite bookish quotes. Some well-known, and some not so well-known. This week’s geeky assignment for us is to share some of those favourites. It can be just one favourite that we’d like to highlight, or a whole list. It can be quotes from books, or quotes about books and reading. We can tell everyone where the quote is from, and/or who said it …. or we can create a quote quiz and make the readers guess. (Guessers! No fair googling!) Whatever we decide to do, we should have fun doing it!

The first quote comes from a book I read last year. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. Jim Thompson was ahead of his time. For those who don’t know what the book is about it is the story of Lou Ford, a small town sheriff’s deputy. He is an ordinary (if slightly dull) man. Except no one knows that behind his benign exterior there lies a dark secret. Once he meets a woman called Joyce Lakeland though his time is up. Soon things spiral out of control and the dead bodies start piling up. A must read for fans of crime fiction!

There is a nightmarish quality to the narrative. It’s because Lou’s life is somewhat of a nightmare. As he describes it,

“It was like being asleep when you were awake and awake when you were asleep. I’d pinch myself, figuratively speaking–I had to keep pinching myself. Then I’d wake up kind of in reverse; I’d go back into the nightmare I had to live in. And everything would be clear and reasonable.”

This heartbreaking one from the  short story Magdalena Looking from the book Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland,

“She thought of all the people in all the paintings she had seen that day, not just Father’s, in all the paintings of the world, in fact. Their eyes, the particular turn of a head, their loneliness or suffering or grief was borrowed by an artist to be seen by other people throughout the years who would never see them face to face. People who would be that close to her, she thought, a matter of a few arms’ lengths, looking, looking, and they would never know her.”

And then there is one of my favourite comic plays by the wicked Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, which is a treasure trove of quotable quotes like this one,

JACK. … Her mother is perfectly unbearable. Never met such a Gorgon . . . I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like, but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair . . .

And finally my favourite quote about reading is the one by Arthur Christopher Benson I use as my tagline,

“All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality — the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.”

This has been a fun week at the Weekly Geeks! Can’t wait to read what quotes everyone else has posted!