Our wonderful new Library named in loving memory of Leisa Crane Dedicated July 20, 2017
LIBRARY: By now most are aware that our Library is closed for a period of time as construction is underway on the first level. A new handicap accessible bathroom is replacing the two small ones. This is a much needed change to our space for all who utilize the Community Center. We will let you know when the Library is again available.
Beginning this month there will be the addition of a book(s) review offered here by Tom Bancroft. Some of you may be acquainted with Tom. I asked him awhile ago if he would consider writing book reviews for the newsletter and he has agreed. In this first one which follows, he introduces himself and background along with the review featuring author Tara French. I hope you will enjoy this added feature to the Newsletter.
The French Way
A book reviewer, like a contractor, doesn’t require licensure, so that if you are confident enough in your abilities, then you call yourself contractor or book reviewer. In this reviewer’s case, I am an autodidact. I have read 60-80 books a year for 50 years, and have absorbed thousands of reviews. I have read theories of reviewing from Matthew Arnold to Edmund Wilson, to Harold Bloom and James Wood. What we pre- sumably end with is informed taste, and of course, like cuisine, it may not be everyone’s.
Unlike contracting, there are no rules that, if broken, will place us out of plumb. However, this reviewer has imposed some on himself.
- ALWAYS read the book under discussion. This is not as obvious as you may think. One could read re- views only, or the dust jacket for that matter. I try not to be unduly influenced by these.
- Be objective in a subjective way. I suppose this could more succinctly be called evenhanded or fair.
- Be subjective in an objective manner. This means that what you read from this reviewer is what this reviewer likes. You will not read a review of anything that I did not finish, or hated. I read for pleasure, and write for the same reason.
I have undertaken to review some books that are available at the Biddeford Pool Library, at the behest of Sue Maccalous, your erstwhile Librarian.
Let’s begin with one of the top three or four mystery writers alive: Tana French.
Most mysteries are read for plot. Only the best are read for character and character development. This epitomizes Ms. French’s seven novels, six featuring the Dublin Murder Squad. Ms. French knows her terri- tory well. An American who has lived in Ireland for 26 years, she sets her stories in contemporary Ireland, reeling in the aftermath of economic collapse. In The Woods, her first novel from 2007 is set in an archaeo- logical dig soon to be paved over. Three children go into the woods, and only one comes out. If that sounds eerie, Broken Harbor, (one of the best in the series) is set in a suburban development unfinished by the de- veloper. A family of four is murdered, with only the wife surviving. This reviewer’s favorite, The Secret Place, is set in a private girl’s school, which exposes in precise, pinpoint prose just how cruel (and murder- ous) young girls can be.
However, it is not the settings, or even the plots (which are as intricate as any you’ve ever read) which will have you craving more- it is the Murder Squad itself. In most mysteries, the central question is: Who is the murderer? In Tana French’s world, it is who are the detectives? (They work in pairs). While in most crime series, you become familiar with, and know what to expect from Hercule Poirot, Harry Bosch, or Kinsey Milhone, each book in Ms. French’s oeuvre is narrated by a different detective, who has often appeared in a supporting role in previous books. My personal favorite is Antoinette Conway, in The Trespasser. The only woman on the Squad, and mixed-race as well, she must be the most conflicted detective in fiction, with a chip on her shoulder the size of a plank. She teams with Stephen Moran, himself the narrator of The Secret Place.
The cliché about mystery writers, when really done well, is that they “transcend the genre”and become literature. Tana French will, in the fullness of time, join Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Elmore Leonard, and very few others, in that pantheon. Tom Bancroft 1/19
Adult Book’s Acquired 2016-2018
BPCC Adult Book List 20180729
list updated 7/29/18
Adult Book List Printable