Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Books 49 & 50 of 2015: Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King & The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King is the third book in the Mary Russell series; a series of books which look at Sherlock Holmes's life after he retires to Sussex. The previous two books saw Mary meeting and falling for Sherlock, then marrying him and along the way they become embroiled in solving crimes. This book sees Mary and Sherlock heading to San Francisco and trying to unravel some of Mary's mysterious past.

I have to admit that I liked this book a lot more than the first two in the series. I felt as though the first book could've been a lot shorter and the second one, while better, again took a very long time for things to happen. I got into this book a lot quicker and then whizzed through it in less than a week.

There was a mix of point-of-views in this book. Parts of it were written in first-person point-of-view which focused on Mary Russell but others were written from third-person perspective. The third-person sections were my favourite, perhaps because, despite liking this book more than the previous two, I still don't like Mary Russell as much as I'm probably supposed to.

One thing that I did really like about this book was the setting. I liked seeing Sherlock Holmes in a new setting. The San Francisco earthquake had cropped up in something else I'd read or watched about the time I read this so it prompted me to look up the quake and subsequent fire online after I'd read it. I liked how the mystery gradually unravelled in this one as well.

I'm not sure I'll be picking up the next one in this series any time soon, but this one did make me feel slightly more inclined to pick up the next one than the last two did.

I followed up Locked Rooms with another Reading Challenge book, this Week 28: A book with antonyms in the title. In an effort to read books on my bookshelf that I hadn't read before, I selected The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood. It's one which I picked up in a book giveaway at work and yet never actually managed to get around to reading.

It's the story of Charlie St. Cloud, a guy who died for a short time as a teenager in the car accident which killed his brother. Since then he's been unable to move on, not least because he can now see the dead people inhabiting the local cemetery where he works. And one of those dead people is his little brother. Meanwhile, Tess is getting ready for a sailing trip but after some unexpected bad weather, suddenly Charlie seems to be the only one who can see her.

Warning: here be spoilers!

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this one but I did really enjoy it. In a way it kind of reminded me of The Frighteners but without all the scary stuff. Where I can, I try to go into a book without any expectations, so that everything is a surprise. I was really grateful that I went into the book without any expectations. In this case it was the magic realism aspect which came as a pleasant surprise; I love magic realism.

I guessed pretty early on that Tess would be near death when she met Charlie. I couldn't help but think that it was fairly obvious which direction the story was going to go in, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the journey along the way. It had a nice framing device as well, with the narration from Florio at both the beginning and end.

And it had a happy ending which made me happy too.

Since then I've not seen anything else by Ben Sherwood, but if I happen across any more of his books, I'll be sure to pick one up.

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