Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Books: Read it in summer, while daylight hours outnumber the dark

I don't like scary movies. I was a bit too young the first time I saw Jaws, and for years afterwards I would lie underwater in the shallow end of Nana's pool, staring into the dark blue of the very deep deep end, frozen in fear as I imagined some tiny spot - probably something trivial like a leaf, or a funnel-web spider - coming closer and closer until it became a huge set of open toothy jaws about to crunch through my body. I have settled down a bit, but I still have a moment's pause for thought when I dive through a wave in the surf and see the endless green before me. And one night, marveling at the little fishies while twilight swimming at Balmoral Beach in Sydney, I started humming the song lyric, "Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water" and scared myself so much that I had to get out. So I'm not entirely cured. I am better with books, but I suppose we can conclude that when I suspend disbelief, I probably do it with more commitment than most.

Knowing my history, you will know why I was slightly nervous at the prospect of Shadow Man. But having just read Peter James's serial killer book, and having more than a passing fascination with psychopaths and serial murder, I scoffed at my reservations and ploughed in.

Whowee, this book scared me shitless! Smoky Barrett, an FBI agent scarred and bereft after a serial killer murdered her husband and daughter as she apprehended him, faces the prospect of a new killer targeting her and her team.

What makes the book so good, apart from being so thrillingly scary, is the humanity of her team. They are all real people in an unreal situation, and their coping strategies with the horror they deal with in their job gives them unique character quirks that are almost instantly endearing. It also makes it all the more scary when the killer goes after them. Although it follows the usual "agent must prove sanity to get back her gun and get on the case: but must get back gun and get on the case to prove sanity" formula, the well rounded supporting characters make this a far richer reading experience than the usual barely human hero and cardboard supporting characters.



Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen, Hodder, 2006

1 Comments:

Blogger Catty said...

Quelle coincidence! I was just talking to my father on the phone today about how whenever we used to go swimming at Balmoral Beach I was desperately scared I'd encounter a shark. Something about those murky waters of the harbour beaches that was infinitely scarier than the ocean beaches.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 4:31:00 PM  

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