E-books and audiobooks reviews: fiction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 January, 2015, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 January, 2015, 11:47pm

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Random House 
(e-book)

Blame Stieg Larsson and Gillian Flynn. Any thriller with the word "girl" in the title seems to inspire great expectations. Paula Hawkins has already won over Stephen King with this teasingly constructed mystery. We have three narrators, but zero in initially on Rachel, who is enjoying a sneaky gin and tonic on her last train home of the week. Sadly, Rachel enjoys a drink on most other days, and slowly we read through her narration to see a desperate woman who is obsessed with other people's lives: strangers but also her ex-husband Tom and his second wife, Anna, whom she stalks when so drunk that she forgets it the following day. Hawkins' second narrator is "Jess", one of the people Rachel spies upon. Like Rachel, she is not all she seems, and not only because her real name is Megan. Megan's disappearance provides central drama, and brings Rachel together with her nemesis Anna in the search for a potential killer. By this point, it is impossible to know who to trust, and Hawkins keeps the uncertainty spinning until the end. Impressive.

 

Don’t Point That Thing At Me
by Kyril Bonfiglioli
Penguin
(e-book)

If the name Kyril Bonfiglioli doesn't trip off the tongue don't worry. Until late last year it didn't mean much, save to a small band of fervent admirers. Now, thanks to Mortdecai starring Johnny Depp, the English novelist's name is on quite a few people's lips. He was, variously, an art dealer, boozer, cad and Casanova - although he makes clear that Don't Point That Thing At Me is about "some other portly, dissolute, immoral and middle-aged art dealer". The plot is a thing of crazed beauty. Mortdecai steals a Goya and is beaten up for his pains by British and American intelligence, not to mention the oil baron who wanted the painting in the first place. The joy, however, is the elegant prose, the drinking and the one liners: "In he pranced, all silent and catlike and absurd, buttocks swaying noiselessly"; "Sometimes, in a subdued light, and with my tummy tucked in, I could almost fancy me myself"; or "Nor is there any sleep so sweet as that of the unjust". Naughty, funny and unstable, Mortdecai is a one-off.

 

Cape Fear
by John D. MacDonald
(read by Stephen Hoye)
Audible (audiobook)

Audible has released new recordings of John D. MacDonald's seminal crime novels, each with an introduction by Dean Koontz, who calls MacDonald his favourite novelist: "All I ever wanted was to touch readers as powerfully as John D. MacDonald touched me." There is no more obvious, or better, place to start than Cape Fear. Originally called The Executioners, its current title is owed to the two film adaptations: the first starring Robert Mitchum, the second starring a Martin Scorsese-directed Robert De Niro. Max Cady has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for raping a young girl. During this stretch he ferments a powerful grudge against Sam Bowden, the lawyer who put him away. At first he spies on Bowden's family, before gradually moving in for the kill - which he promises will be sixfold. He begins with the Bowden pets before setting his sights on Bowden's teenage daughter Nancy. Chilling and addictive.

Extras: Koontz's introduction to MacDonald's life and work.