The Latest Library Books: Black, Kerr, McEwan

The latest armload, from about two weeks ago:

  • Silver Swan, by Benjamin Black
  • The Lemur, by Benjamin Black
  • March Violets, by Phillip Kerr
  • The Child in Time, by Ian McEwan

I was put onto Benjamin Black and Phillip Kerr by Ron Rosenbaum, who writes in Slate that recent works by these two authors were among several books that have “restored pleasure to reading” for him. (He mentioned a third such author, Henry Chang; I realize now that I forgot to look for Chang’s books on this trip to the library, an oversight I’ll have to correct). Writes Rosenbaum:

“What these books have in common, of course, is that they are formally genre novels, literally detective stories… yet they surpass both in artistry and pleasure every highly praised sophomoric attempt at literary fiction I’ve thrown against the wall in the past few years.”

Well, of course I don’t know what’s bounced off Rosenbaum’s wall lately, but I do often find myself longing for the finely wrought plot. Especially mysteries: if I could write mysteries, I would happily do nothing else, so it’s always a pleasure to encounter new authors who do it well.*

Speaking of good plotting, I read all about Ian McEwan in his recent New Yorker profile and realized that there were a few titles of his I’d never yet gotten to. I’m saving Saturday for now, but I checked out Child Out of Time because it seemed most likely to have the mystery-like suspense and nerve-wracking atmosphere of other early works of his, like Black Dogs or The Cement Garden.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

*I should note that March Violets was not the title of the book that sent Rosenbaum into such raptures, but it is the start of a trilogy featuring the same character, so I thought I’d start there.