Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Stunningly well written but truly awful"

This morning, my fellow Ngaio Marsh Award judge, Graham Beattie, reviewed Vanda Symon's new thriller, THE FACELESS, on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme this morning.

Beattie is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in the New Zealand books world - the former head of Penguin books, an acclaimed blogger, consultant, and awards judge for various books prizes. His Beattie's Book Blog is a must-read for those interested in publishing and books industry in this part of the world. In his review (listen above), Beattie was very impressed - if pretty disturbed - by Symon's transition from her compelling crime series starring fiesty young Dunedin police detective Sam Shephard, to a grittier, darker, multi-perspective standalone kidnapping tale set in Auckland. He says:
"I had been warned in advance of reading this latest book, The Faceless, that it was not crime fiction and that it did not feature Sam Shephard. It was in fact that it was a stand-alone thriller. I wasn’t warned though that I would find the book an uncomfortable, disturbing, even frightening read. This is the stunningly-well written but truly awful story ...
... This is probably the most powerful and ambitious writing the author has achieved but believe me it is evil stuff – something of a cross between the gritty crime fiction of Christchurch author Paul Cleave and the horror of Stephen King... The Faceless is a wonderful achievement and I salute the author for it but readers be warned this is not a book to be read at night if you home alone."
You can read a transcript of Graham's full review at his blog here.

Like Beattie, I have read and very highly rate THE FACELESS. It is a very disturbing story, but an excellent one. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes reading the grittier side of crime fiction, combining nasty deeds with thought-provoking and very human themes beneath the storylines.

Have you read THE FACELESS? What do you think of Symon's turn to the darker side?

1 comment:

  1. The Faceless sounds exactly like the kind of crime fiction I go for; gritty, realistic and unapologetic in telling a story that more closely echoes the (unfortunate) realities we find ourselves facing today.