Others of my kind by James Sallis
Jenny Rowan is an editor at a TV station in a very near future or alternative history USA. We see her at the beginning of the book meeting with a policeman who asks her to speak to an abductee survivor given the fact that she is also such a survivor. There is a understated horror in the book, very little detail is given as to either abductee’s ordeal but what little we do learn is very dark indeed. Jenny was kept in a box under her abductee’s bed for a considerable amount of time, and taken out to “lay” with every so often. This means the book is not for the faint hearted. Sallis’s style is minimal and sparse and yet he creates a small book with a lot of emotional depth. Rowan’s relationships don’t really go anywhere and she seems to sleepwalk through her job (although she is good at it she tends to do it whilst zoned out) and is emotionally an enigma. As the book is 1st person this style may not work for some people but I found it worked for me. The last act gets a bit unbelievable as the terrorist sub-plot plays out but it never lost my attention.
Overall – recommended
King Death Toby Litt
As usual Litt has taken a new turn with a new book as he continues to write a book for each letter of the alphabet. This is a tightly plotted mystery that starts with a Japanese artist, Kumiko, and her boyfriend, Skelton, seeing a human heart hit the roof of Borough Market in London, obviously thrown from the train. Kumiko and Skelton then investigate, mostly separately in their own ways, this mystery. In alternative chapters we get alternative POV from Kumiko and Skelton and sometimes see the same episodes from the different POVs and Litt plays with this technique a lot. This book is a little less gripping that the previous ones I’ve read by him but let’s face it a bad Litt is still head and shoulders above most other authors and even though it wasn’t my favourite of his I still devoured it and it kept me glued to the end.
Overall – Intriguing little mystery
The man who laughs David Hine, Mark Stafford & Victor Hugo
This is one of Hugo’s less well known works that Hine has substantially revised for this graphic novel version. The story follows a boy who has been mutilated so that he can only grin like a loon (the book insired the character of the Joker in Batman apparently) who comes across a baby in a dead mother’s arms in a storm. He takes shelter with a travelling doctor and they have to make their living entertaining crowds. There is a lot here that is familiar – orphans, hidden identities, travelling entertainers etc but it is told with aplomb and the art is very good.
Overall – Classic with new life breathed into it.