It doesn’t seem more than a few days ago that I was writing about what makes a good book. The fairly obvious reason that I was writing it was that I was tearing through a really good book, hardly able to drag myself out of it, and when forced to do so, would sneak back to read the next part. Much as I love real actual books made of paper, in general they are more expensive, and they do take up a lot of room. I’m desperately trying to shed stuff, stuff of all sorts, some even precious stuff, and that includes books I’ve read once and know I’ll never read again. Yes, I know it’s lovely to have shelves and shelves of books, all sitting there on their shelves, but we just haven’t the room. At some point we will have to downsize, and having such clear memories of helping someone move to a smaller place in a hurry and all the things which were randomly cast off because we hadn’t time or space to do anything more, I want our exit from here to the next abode, whenever that is, to be less rushed and more planned.. This has strayed away from the point I was making about reading; most books I now buy are eBooks, which means they are accessible everywhere! on my phone, on this computer, on my iPad as well as my eReader!
Back to what I was originally going to comment on, the good book I was addictively reading. It was Scrublands by Chris Hammer; set in Australia, the main character is an experienced war journalist who after a particularly traumatic experience, is sent to the middle of nowhere to a small outback town a year after a horrific mass shooting. His brief is to report on how such a small community comes to terms with something like that… but of course he ends up investigating why it happened and the complex lives and history of the inhabitants. It is a brilliantly written book, wonderfully descriptive but the descriptions of the setting and surrounding area doesn’t detract but enhances the narrative. The characters are weird and eccentric and in some ways repulsive, but realistic all the same. The plotlines were complex and did need careful reading but did completely hang together even though it was farfetched.
Having read that, I bought the next in the series – I am one of those readers who if I like a book, need to read the rest by the author, especially with the same characters. Chris Hammer’s sequel/follow on is ‘Silver’ in which the same main character, the journalist features; this time it follows his personal story, moving back to the small seaside town where he was born and grew up – although of course things, beginning with the murder of his childhood chum, lead him back to his journalistic life. In this story his personal relationships, and his investigation of his own past run parallel to his investigation into his friend’s murder and dodgy doings at a nearby spiritual retreat centre. I enjoyed it, and found it just as addictive to read, but somehow I began to lose my engagement with the main character. I know in fiction characters do unrealistic, unbelievable and sometimes plain silly things for the sake of the plot, but my suspended disbelief faltered. I could not believe a man of his age and experience would do some of the things he did – and that kept intruding as I raced through it. It was good, very good, but I would rate it less good than the first.
Nothing daunted, I have ordered the third in the series, ‘Trust’. I will report back!