Monday, November 28, 2011

Occam's Razor, Walking a Perfect Square, Heart of Darkness

Occam's Razor is another book in Archer Mayor's "Joe Gunther" series.  I generally like them when I read them, and then don't feel a huge desire to get on to the next one.  Kind of strange.  No question that Mayor has serious writing chops; some of the descriptions of Vermont are just gorgeous, his characters are solid, and he's finally managed to write himself into a good ending.

On a whim, I tried out Reed Farrell Coleman's debut novel Walking a Perfect Square, the first novel in his "Moe Praeger" series.  I really enjoyed it -- the non-mystery parts dovetail beautifully with the missing-person plot; the frame story is woven nicely into the main narrative; and Coleman balances humor with grit very cleverly (there aren't that many hard-boiled detective stories featuring anybody with a nice family life, the way we see Praeger's extended family here).

I first read Heart of Darkness in high school, and have read it once or twice since, but I've been meaning to get back to it for a long time now.  It's just as good as I remembered.  For me, what really stands out about the book is the absolutely nightmarish feel from the time Marlow starts the boat up the river till just about the end.  Conrad evokes a feeling of unreality that has always stayed with me more than any other impression I have of the book -- this feeling that, as grounded as the novel is in reality, it feels like we're just floating in a mist while random flashes come into view.

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