In the Woods, Tana French

I read about In the Woods on Trish’s blog as well as the other Jenny Claire’s, and it sounded very intriguing, and it was.  In the Woods is a twisty murder mystery – lots of interesting detail and inexplicable things.  Detective Rob Ryan, who as a child was one of three children that disappeared in a case that was never solved, and the only one who returned, gets put on to solving the murder of a child in the very same forest where he vanished as a kid.

It was a really good book.  I couldn’t quit reading it, and I stayed up late a couple of times to carry on reading it, and there’s a chance I’ll read Tana French’s other book The Likeness.  Just – it wasn’t my thing at all.   In the first place, I like my murder mysteries much more bloodless than this.  Something about murder mysteries has to set them one remove away from me or it’s too scary – it’s helpful to have them set in another time.  Unpleasant child murders occurring in the present day are disturbing to me, particularly when they include autopsies and postmortem rapes.  So if I hadn’t really, really wanted to know what was going to happen in the end, I’d have stopped reading it because it was disturbing (see?  Good book!).  However, I did really want to know what happened, and this gave rise to the other thing in this book that stopped me from liking it.  Which is that I get very frustrated when I am only reading a book in order to see what happens, and peeking at the end doesn’t help me.  In this case, I wanted to know what was up with Ryan’s two friends, and I couldn’t figure it out from peeking at the end of the book.

Spoilers now.  I was so, so, so disappointed when we didn’t find out about Jamie and Peter.  I really wanted to know what happened with Jamie and Peter.  But Tana French got all Stella Gibbons on us.  Poo.

Still, it was an excellent book.  If you are not bothered by gruesome details, you should definitely read it.  (I mean not gruesome.  The author didn’t dwell on them at all.  But the story’s about detectives, and they have to have details about the body and where it was found and what happened at the autopsy, and that’s too specific for me.  I have a low tolerance.  I am easily grossed out.  Hence my chosen career path of anything-but-a-doctor.)

What Happened in Hamelin, Gloria Skurzynski

I’ve been such a schizophrenic reader lately.  I’ve not gotten any books out of the library for the past several weeks, because I’ve been reading Harry Potter and Martin Millar, and planning to get started on Shakespeare.  However, the last time I went through reading all the book blogs I read, there were so many books that appealed to me.  And I wrote them all down but I was all on board with finishing up my Harry Potter & Shakespeare reading before carrying on to new things.

Ah, and then Obama got elected, and I got an unexpected check from my old job.  It’s a perilous combination for me to be both extraordinarily happy and extremely emotional.  It makes me want to make other people happy.  I was listening to NPR while I was driving to the mall yesterday, and I was crying and thinking that when I got back to my apartment I was going to donate a thousand dollars to them because they made me feel so happy with their inspirational stories about Obama celebrations.  And then when I got to the mall I went to Border’s and I was all I HAVE TO BUY BOOKS FROM HERE SO BORDER’S WILL NOT BE MADE SAD BY THE FAILURE OF THEIR STORE AND EVERYONE MUST BE HAPPY BECAUSE WE ARE HISTORIC TODAY.  However, I refrained from both of these things (except I did buy a guitar book at Border’s, because I was so happy and I had no other outlet) (and I also went to the place where I used to work a few summers ago, and I hugged everyone there exuberantly and bought a shirt and two really nice pens).  Instead I went to the library and get a whole bunch of books, including What Happened in Hamelin, which I read about on Jeane’s blog, Dog Ear DiaryWhat Happened in Hamelin is, as you may have begun to suspect, a retelling of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The Pied Piper – they call him Gast – is portrayed as a brilliant, charismatic, unscrupulous man, who uses crafty means to Harold-Hill the residents into doing everything he wants, and then getting rid of their rats while winning over every person in the town.  Chief amongst them (at least at first) is a fourteen-year-old orphan called Geist, who feels some uneasiness about the stranger’s methods but finds it hard to resist the attention he’s getting as Gast’s right-hand man.

It’s an interesting take on the Hamelin story.  Gast thinks of a clever way to get rid of the rats, and the thing he does with the children is also clever.  The whole thing isn’t as far-fetched as you might expect an explanation of the Pied Piper story to be – actually, it seemed rather plausible to me.  You know, sad, but plausible.

This book was damn unsettling.  It was already unsettling before I got to the end where – spoilers – Gast leads all the children through a mountain pass in order to sell them to some guys he’s presumably got on retainer.  I just found it thoroughly disturbing that Gast was using his charm to get these kids away from their parents and off to be sold, and that was his plan all along.  If I had read this book when I was a little girl it would have given me nightmares.  As a grown-up, I was still bothered by it, but I really, really enjoyed it.  Thanks, Jeane, for the excellent book recommendation!

P.S. Want to hear something sad?  I know you do.  The first written record in the actual town of Hamelin is in the chronicles in 1384 and says “It is ten years since our children left.”  It’s true.  I read it on Wikipedia.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling

I saw this graph one time on something connected with the Lemony Snicket books, and it showed how as time went on, the number of fortunate events decreased. And that is what I always think of when I read the fifth Harry Potter book. It contains so many depressing things – dementors, Umbridge, writing lines in blood, everyone thinking Harry is crazy, an acknowledgement of Harry’s psychological issues, Cho Chang – and the end makes me feel so very, very sad, for Harry and for Dumbledore. I stayed up until midnight for this book when it came out, at the Bongs & Noodles near my place, which was fun because of the big party they were having. I kept running into people from my high school who tried to pretend they weren’t there for the Harry Potter book but I KNEW BETTER. And the cover was so cool and mysterious! And then once we got our books, me and my big sister and our friend Jane went back to Jane’s house to read it, and they both got cross at me if I made a single noise when I was reading. And Jane’s dogs got really tired because we never turned the lights off, and they kept falling over when they tried to walk. It was good times.

I mean, sort of. If you ignore how sad this book is. In this one, Voldemort’s back, and nobody believes it. Harry and Dumbledore are totally discredited in the wizarding world, and everyone is constantly telling lies, repressing stories about dreadful things happening, and punishing Harry when he tries to tell the truth about Voldemort. There is a new awful Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher called Dolores Awful Umbridge, who spends her time turning Hogwarts into a Fascist state. Snape continues being horrible to Harry, and we sort of find out why. Harry’s psychic connection with Voldemort deepens (ugh), and Hagrid makes Harry’s life harder (again) (but I still love him). A few cheerful things happen, but they are few and far between, and they are quickly cancelled out by all the awful things that follow in their wake.

The adverbs in this book hurt me. I tried not to notice them but it was difficult when they were clawing free of the page and burrowing into my eyeballs. My recollection is that the sixth book isn’t as bad about this, but we’ll see. I feel like the adverbs in this book are worse than they’ve been.

My mother doesn’t like it when Harry yells at everybody all through this book. I kind of do. I mean, not the all-caps business, which just shouldn’t be allowed, but I feel that at this point, he’s entitled to a little anger. You know, the kid loses his parents, gets raised by assholes in total ignorance of his heritage, and when he does go off to wizard school and escape from the jerks that didn’t parent him properly, the adults in his life continue to not parent him, not even managing to protect him from Dark wizards trying to kill him (I feel guilty even writing this because I was so sniffly when I was reading the bit about how guilty Dumbledore feels about Harry at the end of this book), and then, when the person who killed his parents returns to start killing more people, everyone he knows quits talking to him for half the summer. Oh, and the wizarding world staunchly denies that his very traumatic experience of watching Voldemort return ever happened. So hey. I’d be mad too.

(Apparently growing up with these books has made me very protective of Harry.)

Now I will have spoilers.

On rereading, I find myself much fonder of Luna Lovegood, who grew on me in the sixth book after I originally completely loathed her (how did I ever loathe her? I’m so weird). I find Umbridge and Snape’s nastiness with Harry actually more upsetting now than I did originally, because I know that Umbridge is never getting her comeuppance, and because I feel like Snape could really have made more of an effort to be nice to Lily’s kid, especially when the kid in question is going through a very hard time with hostility on all sides. That jerk of a Snape. Lily’s looking down from heaven and saying You asshole. I found it incredibly woeful when Lupin told Mrs. Weasley that of course Ron and Ginny would be taken care of if something happened to the Weasley parents. In light of what I know is going to happen to Lupin, that is rather depressing.

On the positive side, I love their top-secret underground Defense Against the Dark Arts Group. I love it when Fred and George take off for good, and everyone in the school works to sabotage Umbridge and her reign of terror (that writing lines in your own blood thing is damn creepy, I must say). I am pleased each time I read the scene where Dumbledore fights off all the Aurors and goes on the run. As much as it pains me, I am interested in the scene from Snape’s memory with James and Sirius – because, I hate him, but it’s about time we found out some extenuating circumstances about Snape. And I am glad about how Hermione confronts Harry about his “saving-people thing”. She’s so clever and perceptive, and if Harry had just damn well listened to her, Sirius wouldn’t have died. So it was nice to have that out there.

I have not yet reconciled myself to the fact that Sirius dies. I cry every time I read that scene. My own father’s so lovely! Imagine having no father and then when you finally acquire a father figure who, okay, has some issues to work out, but nevertheless is devoted to you, HE DIES. It’s so unfair. Poor Sirius. Poor Harry. Actually, the sequence in the Department of Mysteries is a tense and upsetting sequence. Everyone is so brave, and particularly darling Neville is so brave! Oh, when he says that Harry’s not alone, he’s got Neville, and when, oh, Neville, when he tells him not to give them the prophecy, and…

Suffice it to say that – this always happens – I started crying when Neville starts being so brave and wonderful, and I carried right on crying through Sirius’s death, Dumbledore’s fight with Voldemort, and especially all through the part where Dumbledore is explaining everything to Harry. Just don’t even talk about how many tissues had piled up next to me by the time he told him why he didn’t make him a prefect. Oh, right, and at the exact second when I managed to begin drying my eyes, I got to the bit where Harry finds the mirror, and then just when I was feeling proud that I didn’t cry when Harry talks to Nearly Headless Nick, I got to the part where he talks to Luna, and that destroyed me all over again.

…I have a lot of feelings.  The more of these books I read the more emotional I get.  I’m going to have a thing or two to say about Rufus Scrimgeour after I read the sixth book.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

I decided to read these books all over again. The length of my workdays, and the fact that today I was working at one place or another from six-forty in the morning until nine at night, has put the kibosh on any adventurous reading I might feel like doing. I returned all my library books to the library with the intention of reading my books that I already own (but not yet Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me, for which I’m still delaying gratification); and I came up with the bright idea of reading the entire Harry Potter series over from the beginning. My little sister and I have been having a big moan about how much we miss the prospect of new Harry Potter books now that the phenomenon is all, all over.

Also, I decline to call it Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. What is a sorcerer’s stone? The thing is called the philosopher’s stone! It has basis in alchemic legend! Why assume Americans are too stupid for this? Hmph.

In case you’ve been living under a rock: little Harry is a wee lad of eleven, and lives with his awful aunt and uncle and cousin, where nobody likes him and his glasses are broken and he gets in enormous trouble every time something strange happens around him (which isn’t un-often). And then, and then, and then – and then it proves that he’s a wizard, a really famous one because he somehow defeated the darkest dark wizard of all time when he was just a tiny baby, and he goes off to the wizard school Hogwarts, where he has all kinds of exciting adventures and meets loads of new people and flies brilliantly all around on his broomstick. And confronts the aforementioned dark wizard, all over again.

All the problems I remember with JK Rowling’s writing – crazy long sentences which bugs me as someone who likes to read aloud, and also a plethora of unnecessary verbs where “said” should be, and of course the ubiquitous adverbs – are still there. (I realize that last sentence was on the long side, but this is the same blog where I just used the word “unreviewy”, so the standards aren’t quite the same.) I’ve heard people say that JK Rowling is unoriginal, and Harry’s a cliche, and wizard school is a cliche. However, kids who have been mistreated and then find out they’re special are one of those plots that continues to be enjoyable for ages and ages – just like kids who go off to their relative’s strange old house for the summer and discover it is all full of magic. So I am not bothered by this, and since JK Rowling has created an unbelievably thorough and interesting world for her wizards, I can’t support charges of unoriginality.

I have to say, these are charming, charming books. She’s populated her world with good, bright, vivid characters, and she’s made up or borrowed from myth a ton of interesting places and things for Harry (and me!) to be introduced to. I like these books because every one of them introduces new places, new people, new stuff. And as well, I kind of enjoy this one because it’s lighter in tone than the later ones. I want to give Harry a hug and tell him to run away because I KNOW WHAT IS COMING. (JK Rowling was always saying that in interviews – that if she could talk to Harry, she’d tell him she was sorry; if she could spend a day as Harry, she’d run and hide, because she knows what’s in store for him, and I can totally see her point now.) As someone who held out reading them for a while out of a suspicion that they weren’t as good as everyone was saying, let me just say: They’re as good as everyone is saying.

Rereading this, I’m having flashbacks to eighth grade, which is when I first read this book. My friend Rachel lent it to me, and I read it on the bus so I wouldn’t have to talk to the irritating girl who sat with me. Her name was Terri, and she had a high-pitched voice and an annoying little sister who also rode our bus, and she couldn’t understand why it would bother me to have somebody poking their fingers at my face. I finished it, urged my sisters to read it, and ran straight out to the Books-a-Million to buy Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And then, oh my God, I think I maybe got the third book at the school book fair! I miss the school book fairs!

I’m also finding that I react to every character differently now, because I know the entire arc of their story. (If you haven’t had the joyous experience of reading the Harry Potter books, don’t read this paragraph. I mean it. Even I, queen of reading the end, did not want to know the endings of these books.) So when people show up who are going to die later, I feel urgently that everybody else should enjoy their presence while they can. When people show up who are going to be heroic later, I can only think of their future heroic deeds. I’m having surprisingly (or not so surprisingly, when you think about how tired I am) emotional reactions to everything. When Neville comes into the compartment looking for his toad, I could only think about how he slays Nagini later, oh, how Harry’s going off and he tells Neville, just if he gets the chance, “Kill the snake?” “Kill the snake.” Darling Neville! I wish I could tell him how brave he will be! And when Dumbledore’s giving his speech at the school banquet, I was filled with visceral rage about the nasty things Rita Skeeter was going to say about him later. Oh how I hate her, with her vile insinuations about his very touching paternal relationship with Harry. VILE VILE VILE WOMAN.

Getting the Girl, Markus Zusak (another unreviewy review)

Sheesh, I read this right after Fighting Ruben Wolfe and then completely forgot to review this.  It’s because so many new things are happening.  I’m not just making an excuse.  There are a lot of things going on in my life at the moment.  For instance:

1. New job
2. New commitment to regular writing schedule
3. New phone and laptop
4. New record player
5. Loads and loads of new records – some purchased, some given to me by kind aunt and uncle – and the discovery of a wondrous record store in town
6. New addiction to Jodi Picoult
7. Renewed addiction to cross-stitching
8. Renewed addiction to Gilmore Girls (differing from my previous addictions in that it encompasses the latter four seasons, rather than the first three)

All of these things are time-consuming, particularly the addictions.  I am beginning to suspect that I have an addictive personality.  I get into these manias and I can’t escape until they shake me loose.  The cross-stitching while watching Gilmore Girls thing is just getting started, but it is gaining momentum rapidly.  Plus I am writing for two hours in the morning and then working nine hours after that (I mean eight really, with a break for lunch, but I am out and about all that time), so I have a long and tiring day, and by the end of it I just want to do something soothing and mindless, like read Jodi Picoult or watch Gilmore Girls.  My mum keeps insisting I can’t possibly read Jodi Picoult’s books without thinking about the issues raised in them, but it turns out that I really, really can.  I am willing to entertain the notion that I am just turning off my brain as soon as I leave work, and that’s why I have thought no deep thoughts about Jodi Picoult.

Well, in any case.  (Obviously all this business has given me ADD and I can’t focus on anything.  Oo, and what else is new too also is that it’s fall, and all the fall TV shows have come on, and I enjoy to cross-stitch while watching (on successive days) Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill (Monday is guilty pleasure day), House, Pushing Daisies, and The Office.)  In any case, Getting the Girl was again very good.  Of course.  Markus Zusak is always good.  Of course his other books (other = books not The Book Thief) are less amazing than The Book Thief, but the four I’ve read have all been quite excellent.  At times I thought Getting the Girl was a trifle disingenuous, but overall, I liked it a lot.  So far I have yet to read a book by Markus Zusak without getting choked up and teary-eyed (though of course with The Book Thief I cried many, many tears).

Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Markus Zusak

I read this because I bought Getting the Girl, and then it turned out that Getting the Girl was a sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe.  I haven’t liked reading things out of order since I was a young lass reading Patricia C. Wrede’s Dragons books.  I read Talking to Dragons first and found it totally confusing, and after that I resolved to read things properly and in order thereafter.  (The one exception being the Chronicles of Narnia.  I can see a person being just as happy reading those books in the order they were written, which would give them the joyous good fortune of reading The Horse and His Boy rather late in the game.  Also The Magician’s Nephew – it is my fourth favorite, but it clusters high up with the four best ones, rather than down a bit lower with Prince Caspian, The Terrifying Silver Chair, and The Last Battle.  I like Uncle Andrew.

Er, anyway.  Fighting Ruben Wolfe is all about two brothers, Ruben and Cameron, whose father has lost his job, and their whole family is trying really hard to keep its head above water.  And Ruben and Cameron – ostensibly to get some extra money for themselves – get involved doing fights for money.  Ruben always wins, and Cameron often loses.

In fact I wasn’t expecting to like this book much.  People’s first novels are sometimes not very good, and this was Markus Zusak’s first novel.  Furthermore I have only sisters and am greatly averse to pain, so I was thinking that I would be unable to identify with anything here.  But actually it was quite moving.  I didn’t cry at the end – not like when I read The Book Thief and weep helplessly every time – but I got pretty teary-eyed and sniffly.  They fight their circumstances!  They stick together and are brothers!  It’s very uplifting.

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

The reason for the brevity of those last two reviews is that I am really mostly just excited about The Graveyard Book, which came out today.  At last!  The Graveyard Book!  I have been yearning and yearning and yearning for it, and at last it came out, and I read it all outside on a blanket in my side yard, and it was nice and shady and breezy, and I felt very, very, very happy!

I went to Bongs & Noodles today to get The Graveyard Book, and they had not yet even opened up the box with the display that The Graveyard Book was going to be on.  The salesperson had to get a pair of scissors and open the box up just for me.  (I offered her my keys, which would have been more effective actually, but she insisted on using the scissors.)  It was very exciting.  I love it when Neil Gaiman writes a new book.  He should write a new book every day, and then I would be happy every day, and I wouldn’t have enough time to read all of them, so that when he died way off in the future I would still have dozens of new books by Neil Gaiman to read.

That would be nice.

The Graveyard Book is all about a boy whose family is killed when he is very wee, but he escapes and toddles away into a graveyard, and the graveyard decides to adopt him.  The ghosts all look after him and teach him useful lessons like Fading and Dreamwalking, and he has got a guardian called Silas, who consumes only one food, and it is not bananas.  He grows up gradually, and they call him Bod (with a D), short for Nobody.  The man Jack, who killed his family, remains interested in killing him, so Silas and the rest of the ghosts do their utmost best to keep him safe until he is a grown-up.  He becomes clever and resourceful, and he doesn’t like people who are wicked.

How I loved The Graveyard Book!  It was such a dear book!  There are all these ghosts you don’t get to know nearly well enough, and every chapter is a little story, and Bod gets into all kinds of trouble and learns valuable lessons and sometimes makes a friend.  I only wished there were more of it.  More Silas and more of the poet ghost, who was extravagant and helpful.  I am not usually overcome with sadness when a book ends, but I was extremely sad when I got to the end of The Graveyard Book.  I suppose because it was rather episodic, I expected it to go on and on and on, and then instead of that it ended, and I felt really sad because I was sure there were more bits that could have happened in the middle before it got to the end.  I was insupportable.  I had to lie on my back and stare at the humongous sky for a while before I was able to overcome my grief and start reading it all over.

Read it!  Neil Gaiman is wonderful!  I am glad he is still so young and can continue to write for many years still!

The Mercy of Thin Air, Ronlyn Domingue

Recommended by my mother.  Of course.

This is a book about a girl in 1920s New Orleans who dies prematurely, before anything about her life gets properly decided, particularly before she makes a decision about her boyfriend Andrew, a fact that proves troublesome to her after she dies.  She is called Razi, and she haunts a Baton Rouge couple, Amy and Scott, who are dealing with the fallout from a loss of their own.  The story flips back and forth between their story and Razi’s life as a – for lack of a better word – ghost, over the years, and Razi’s life when she was properly alive.  She is a really excellent character.  When she is alive she says to her Andrew, “One lifetime isn’t enough to make all the trouble of which I am capable.”

I really love the main character’s name – it’s Raziela, the meaning of which I’ve seen alternately given as God’s secret and My secret is God, both of which are wonderful.  I like My secret is God particularly, to be honest.  My secret is God.  That is a good sentence.  I will have to find a use for that sentence.

The Mercy of Thin Air was good.  I like books about people successfully coming to terms with things that have been problematic to them.  This was melancholy in bits and joyful in bits and with good characters and good dialogue and I just liked it a lot.  Plus, you know, sister’s from the home state and her characters are always going to places that I have been, in Baton Rouge and in New Orleans.  Hooray for Louisiana!  We have good food!  We have streetcars!  If anywhere in this country was going to have ghosts, it would be us!  Up with Louisiana!

Blankets, Craig Thompson

On reflection, I believe I am glad I didn’t buy this in my recent spate of bookbuying, because I have still not decided whether I want to own it forever.  It’s very good – a graphic novel memoir about first love and losing faith – and I enjoyed it both times I read it, and I am looking forward to Craig Thompson’s next, whenever that may be.  I don’t have anything bad to say about it, actually.  The drawings are black and white, line drawings, and Mr. Thompson makes excellent use of the whole graphic novel form to do things with implication and without words, which is something I so adore about graphic novels.  For someone who loves words as much as I do, I am incredibly pleased when an author can make something go without saying.

I suppose the reason I haven’t bought this even though it’s excellent is that it’s also awfully sad.  Awfully awfully sad.  I mean not depressing, but just very sad.  Plus memoirs make me a little anxious – which is funny considering how many memoirs I read – but it’s just that people write these books that tell dreadful stories about them and their family members, and it makes me anxious for their family.  Even though I’m sure they asked permission about everything they wrote.

Still it’s very well worth reading.  I shall probably continue to check it out of the library periodically until I eventually cave and buy it so I won’t have to keep getting it at the library every few years.  We’ll see.

Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris

Recommended by actually a number of book blogs – A Reader’s Journal and the other Jenny Claire from my lovely home state both reviewed it well.  I’ve been putting off reading this because I didn’t like Chocolat at all – I thought the film was better.  A terrifying and rare thing for me to say, and I generally only say it about The Princess Bride and Cold Comfort Farm; my opinion swayed in the latter case by how adorable I think Kate Beckinsale is, and how all the jokes surprised me in the film but not in the book, which I read subsequently.

However, I eventually decided to check this out when I discovered it was all about someone secretly trying to bring down a British public school.  It made me think of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which I enjoyed very much, and besides British schoolchildren fascinate me with their dreadfulness.  How can they be so dreadful?  And I discovered I like this quite a lot more than Chocolat, all the nasty revenge things that went on, and Roy Straitley’s rude Latin asides (hurrah for Latin! the Latin teacher was the cleverest!).

I will now commence to spoil everything, so stop reading if you don’t wish to be spoiled.

You get alternating points of view of Roy Straitley, the old and venerable Latin teacher at St. Oswald’s, an old British public boys’ school that is snobby and unassailable, and one of the new teachers at St. Oswald’s, once unhappily a regular school kid looking in from the borders of St. Oswald’s, now back to seek reeeee-venge against everyone, everyone, everyone at St. Oswald’s.  It’s all very cunning and insinuating.  You think it’s Chris Keane all along, but in the end it turns out it’s a girl! Who pretended to be a boy when she was younger so she could sneak into St. Oswald’s and pretend to go there!

I don’t know how well this worked.  I didn’t know she was a girl until the end.  It sort of spoiled the book for me – when the new teachers first showed up, I thought, Well, obviously she’s suggesting it’s Keane, I’ll just skip to the end and discover whether it is really someone else, and I glanced at the end of one of the closing chapters, and someone said “KEANE?” in shocked tones right at the end of the chapter, and I assumed that that meant yes, Keane was the perpetrator of these wicked crimes.  It made me feel very fond of Joanne Harris, as I thought she was putting all the fun into how and why things were being done, rather than by whom.  Which is what I prefer anyway, when you know who did it, you can catch how and why straight along as you’re reading through.  But I didn’t get to have the fun of doing that.  I felt sad and let down when I got to the end and all was revealed.  Pooh.

But I enjoyed all the wicked things she did to everyone.  I did think the sex scandals were a little uninventive – it would have been more fun if she had managed to implicate maybe one or two people with the suggestion of pedophilia and then done something completely different for the others.  And, as I say, I was pleased that the Latin teacher was cleverest of all.  Up with Latin!

All in all, fun and engaging, and maybe sometime when I get over being cross with Joanne Harris for tricking me I will read it again and see how well I feel her twist-at-the-end I’m-really-a-girl device worked.  At the moment I think it was a little cheaty, but since I didn’t know throughout the entire book, I can’t really say.