Reservoir 13

BOOK Reviews 110015

Jon McGregor

First Sentence:     They gathered in the car park before dawn and waited to be told what to do. 

Back of the book:

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

Quote from the book:

He felt as though he were holding the three of them, holding this room, this house. They made him feel at once immensely capable and immensely not up to the task.

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The Longest Memory

Longest Memory

Fred D’Aguiar

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:      The future is just more of the past waiting to happen.

Back of the book: 

Written in taut, poetic language, THE LONGEST MEMORY is set on a Virginian plantation in the 19th century, and tells the tragic story of a rebellious, fiercely intelligent young slave who breaks all the rules: in learning to read and write, in falling in love with a white girl, the daughter of his owner, and, finally, in trying to escape and join her in the free North. For his attempt to flee, he is whipped to death in front of his family, and this brutal event is the pivot around which the story evolves.

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White Tears

White Tears

Hari Kunzru

First Sentence:     That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.

Back of the book:

Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history — and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow his friend into the darkness.

Trapped in a game they don’t understand, Hari Kunzru’s characters move unsteadily across the chessboard, caught between black and white, performer and audience, righteous and forsaken. But we have been here before, oh so many times over, and the game always ends the same way . . .

Quotes from the book:

Digital sound had an absolute cutoff, a sonic floor that repelled the listener and set an inhuman limit to the experience […] Whatever happened to soul, to the vibration of an animal-gut string, the resonance of lacquered rosewood?

“As he got in, I caught sight of his expression, an external blankness that wasn’t passivity or peace or even simple tiredness. It was like a lid on a boiling pan, masking some spirit-consuming interior battle.”

By the time I’d finished, it sounded like a worn 78, the kind of recording that only exists in one poor copy, a thread on which time and memory hang.

“I am often accused of lacking emotional response. In fact I think what I lack is emotional spontaneity. It takes me a while to release my reaction, for the feeling to bubble up from below.”

My memory is a mystical conspiracy of connections. Everything has already happened. I am merely a man, sitting in a chair, listening to a recording made long ago. The needle is travelling in a predetermined track. Eventually, sooner or later, it will hit the run-out groove at the end.

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Blue Light Yokohama

bly

Nicolás Obregón

First Sentence:     The cable car pulled away, carrying one last load of tourists up into the warm dusk.

Back of the book:

Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case.

Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross.

A case that’s complicated – a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge.

Carrying his own secret torment, Iwata is no stranger to pain. He senses the trauma behind the killer’s brutal actions. Yet his progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places.

Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he’s sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he’s taken off the case or there are more killings . . .

Blue Light Yokohama is crime fiction at its very best – gripping, haunting, atmospheric and utterly captivating.

Quotes from the book:

But there was an angry addict inside him who did not want to start again. An angry drunk who could not be reasoned with. Like a great tide, the warmth would drag him under and toss him back somewhere else, far, far away, flotsam on the surface of an unwanted life.

“When he had first shown her the lighthouse, they had looked at it for a long time, a lonely quirk against the mulberry twilight. They make me feel sad, she had said. They care about you but all they do is tell you to stay away. Kosuke hadn’t replied.”

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The Loney

Loney

Andrew Michael Hurley

First Sentence:     It had certainly been a wild end to the autumn.

Back of the book: 

Two brothers. One mute, the other his lifelong protector.

Year after year, their family visits the same sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney, in desperate hope of a cure.

In the long hours of waiting, the boys are left alone. And they cannot resist the causeway revealed with every turn of the treacherous tide, the old house they glimpse at its end . . .

Many years on, Hanny is a grown man no longer in need of his brother’s care.

But then the child’s body is found.

And the Loney always gives up its secrets, in the end.

Quotes from the book:

She had grown up on the north-west coast, within spitting distance of the Loney and the place still buttered the edges of her accent even though she had long since left and had lived in London for twenty years or more.

‘Leonard took a bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the door to the cellar. He went down, shaking them in his hand, turning the babies cries to screams.’

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