Thursday, August 02, 2007

Monday Monday ba ba ba baba

I just read Kathy Reichs' Monday Mourning. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

The bumpf or guff at the front has reviewers comparing her as a writer favourably to Patricia Cornwell with her coroner protagonist Scarpetta. I'm not convinced on that one.

I prefer Scarpetta's cold fish routine to Tempe Brennan's meanderings. I suppose Scarpetta's a bit closer to the noirish detective fiction, with the mostly isolated hero-detective fixated on the solution of a problem, whereas Tempe is warmer. I didn't feel as drawn in to her world, however. She was very emotional, "numb with horror", and so on, but I was pretty unmoved by her emotions, quite frankly.

I don't think it is actually a problem with me being jaded or something, though, because there are certain books which have grossed me out or make me feel a bit queasy. Perhaps I'm buying into a stereotype about police/pathologists, assuming they must develop certain callouses or go mad? Could you really deal with violent death and not try to distance yourself? Is the Khandi Alexander CSI pathologist who babies every one of her dead bodies more realistic than the ones who evade emotion? That character (Khandi Alexander's Alexx) irritates me with her excessive sweetness! It seems to me more human to joke and laugh irreverently in the presence of death/illness than to immerse oneself in imagining what that dead person's last moments were like, etc. Surely it's a self-preservation technique? If you were to take Alexx's/Tempe's path, wouldn't you just burn out? The nurses I know insist that they wouldn't be able to do their jobs if they couldn't somehow push it all back occasionally. It's not that they don't feel things, it's just that they can't afford to dwell on it. While Tempe definitely dwells.

I was also very aware of every chapter ending, as though there should have been adverts or I should have gone for a cup of tea at that point, every single time.

I presume this was a technique of writing Reichs was using in order to get you to go onto the next chapter, but to be honest, if it's that obvious, it's not working properly. I felt it was the kind of book designed to be read in chapters, and "we'll find out what happens next time!" (as I say to S when I'm reading her a book at night - currently The Hobbit), but that's not the sort of reader I am. It peeves me if you tell me that 'this took me aback, but not as much as what happened on Monday morning'. End chapter. It seemed a bit clumsy to me. Customarily I will read a book in one sitting, and I felt I was being told to wait for the next episode, if you like.

Still, all this shouldn't delude you into thinking I didn't like the book, cos I did!

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