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25 October 2010 @ 08:06 pm
R.I.P. Challenge book #5  

My last book in this year's Challenge is a reread. In 1996 I borrowed Knollekop (Bucket Nut) by Liza Cody from the library, and loved it so much that when I came across it at the annual Centraal Boekhuis book fair the next year, I picked up a copy.

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This was unusual, because I tend to regard thrillers and mysteries as junk food: tasting good (hopefully) while it lasts, but containing nothing but empty calories and therefore leaving you ultimately unsatisfied.

But then, the protagonist is an unusual character: a female wrestler with a night job as a security guard (with two vicious watchdogs, hence the English cover), and supplementing her income by doing shady jobs for various figures, the most important of whom is a Chinese mobster.

I loved Eva Wylie straightaway and I fell in love with her all over again this time around. The story is told from her point of view. In her own words she is big, ugly and mean, but we can tell that underneath her tough exterior she is more vulnerable than she'd have us believe.

The actual plot, which involves Eva doing one job too many and getting caught in the crossfire between two rivalling gangs, isn't all that important. What I loved about the book is Eva's voice, her wry humour and outlook on life, the search for her sister, and the fascinating look into the world of show wrestling.

At the time I also read the sequel Monkey Wrench, but found that one a little over the top. I see that there is a third book called Musclebound and a series featuring a female private detective, but the only title my library has nowadays is Monkey Wrench, and neither Waterstone's nor ABC stock her books. Liza Cody seems to have more or less dropped off the radar, which is a shame, in my opinion.

4/5


There is still some time left until the end of October, but I think I'll use it for watching a scary film or two. :)


 
 
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heartofdavid: coffeebigheartofdavid on October 27th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
Bucket Nut sounds good, but it should have a squirrel character somewhere in it, going by the title.

because I tend to regard thrillers and mysteries as junk food: tasting good (hopefully) while it lasts, but containing nothing but empty calories and therefore leaving you ultimately unsatisfied.
I beg to differ. Cozy mysteries do tend to favor that description, but a good mystery or thriller leaves you thinking about how things turned out and how by a few twists of fate things could have been much different. Actually, I think most books are thrillers in some sense of the word, unless they are outright humor or romantic pap.
Mnemosyne: thinking_lethe_ on October 27th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
No squirrels in sight, sorry. "Bucket nut" is what a man in the audience shouts at her, because of her ugly face.

I think what I mean is that thrillers are generally plot-driven, while I prefer character-driven novels. The latter usually pay more attention to style too, IMO. Which is also why I liked this book so much. The plot is rather flimsy, but Eva is a great character.

Funnily enough, I love Agatha Christie's cosy mysteries as comfort reading, and I'm just sorry there aren't any new ones for me to discover, since I know most of them practically by heart.

how by a few twists of fate things could have been much different.
I guess I don't like twists of fate, because they have a tendency to make me sad (see The Cave and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"). :)

I think most books are thrillers in some sense of the word
You're probably right there, a lot of books are indeed suspenseful in one way or another. I think the alternative would be a book in which nothing happens. That'd be a boring read!
I love Donna Tartt's books. I think you could call them thrillers, but they are also beautifully written. Win/win!
heartofdavid: nunsmokingheartofdavid on October 28th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
I think what I mean is that thrillers are generally plot-driven, while I prefer character-driven novels. The latter usually pay more attention to style too, IMO.
I prefer character-driven novels as well. Great characters can make up for a weak plot, but the best plot can be destroyed by flimsy characters.

I love Donna Tartt's books. I think you could call them thrillers, but they are also beautifully written.
I loved Secret History but didn't like The Little Friend, although I can't exactly remember why just now. I couldn't get into it and dropped it after 60 or so pages - could be I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. That sometimes happens to me with books. I realize the book is good but it isn't working for me, so I figure the problem is me and not the book and I usually go back to the book at a later time and end up enjoying it - that is exactly what happened with The Thirteenth Tale. Gave up after 20 pages on the first try but felt I wasn't giving the book a fair chance. Second attempt...I plowed through it, lol.

Mnemosyne: scared_lethe_ on October 28th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
I figure the problem is me and not the book

In the case of The Little Friend it is probably the book, because I only know of a very few people besides me who not only finished it, but also loved it. Most people gave up.

Personally, I thought it was great. Completely different from The Secret History though.

I particularly remember a scene towards the end of the book, which took place near a water tower. It had me on the edge of my seat.
chetbakerfanchetbakerfan on October 27th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
Another liza cody book you might enjoy (and not a mystery) is Rift. It concerns a British film crew stranded in Africa back in the mid 70s. It's more of a journey than a story, and is a bit reminescent of The Sheltering Sky (the film at least; I never read the book).
Mnemosyne_lethe_ on October 28th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
That sounds good too, thanks for the tip!

(How sad that apart from a collection of short stories all her books are out of print. She deserves better, with all those glowing reviews.)