Saturday, July 18, 2009
No Such Creature by Giles Blunt
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House (Oct. 14, 2008)
I've read every book Giles Blunt has written and loved them all. No Such Creature is a departure from his award winning John Cardinal police mystery series. Even his first novel, Cold Eye, which is also a stand alone, had some chilling intrigue and great psychological insights. I can highly recommend them all. But No Such Creature, though well written and interesting to a point is a weak entry in this writer's oeuvre for me. I just didn't feel very attached to the characters and I don't think it's because they are all criminals.
Young Owen was tragically orphaned at nine and groomed to a life of summertime crime by his uncle Max who raised him. We do want to see the boy get away from all the dangers of this lifestyle, especially when a poor choice ends in their being pursued by infamously brutal mobsters. Old Max likes to quote Shakespeare and Owen likes to imagine they're like Robin Hood because his uncle insists on robbing only rich Republicans. If it sounds funny, it is to some degree but there is some terrible violence too, which makes for a dark story at times, though the tale does ends in a somewhat hopeful way.
This is a coming of age story for Owen, who at eighteen has begun to realize that the person he loves most in the world is most likely to lead him to harm. It's also a road trip with the hounds of hell on their tail. The pace is right and emotional attachments to family are something Blunt is always good at. I think after such powerful entries as Forty Words for Sorrow and By the Time You Read This, or even Blackfly Season, I was expecting too much from No Such Creature. And I was ill when I read it. So, though it's a reasonably good story for anyone not already familiar with Blunt's writing, I can only give it three and half stars. My recommendation is definitely read this man's works, but don't start with No Such Creature or you'll have the wrong impression. He's capable of, and usually serves up so much better.
His next book is already out and I can't wait to read it. Yes, I'm still in love with the man's writing and the way he thinks. Breaking Lorca is another departure for him, historical fiction set in El Salvador during the 1980s, and I suspect not for the faint of heart. A woman is detained in a government torture center and Blunt gives us "a terrifying journey into human cruelty and courage". Now all I need is for someone to send me a copy (big hint to his publicist).
Thank you to Random House Canada for the lovely hardcover copy and LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
Giles Blunt's site.
Also reviewed at:
Book Reviews by Bobby
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*Edited: Winner was Upper West Side Writer.
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