mystery

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker – Book Review

This was the first book club reading that, I’m sorry to say, turned out to be a complete dud. I still finished it because the central mystery kept my interest, but it’s not a good sign when you start cringing a couple of pages in.

There is a potentially interesting if harrowing story at the heart of the novel. In a small USA town, a teenage girl called Jenny Kramer is brutally raped at a high school party. Her parents agree to an experimental treatment that erases Jenny’s memory of the event; in theory this should spare her from PTSD and allow her to return to normal life. But Jenny’s trauma finds its way out regardless, and she decides that she wants to recover her memory of the rape. The novel’s narrator, Dr. Forrester, is the psychiatrist who treats Jenny as well as her parents who deal with their own emotional fallout and deep-seated issues. There’s also the question of who committed this horrific crime.

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Deception Point by Dan Brown – Book Review

I got knocked over by a nasty cold last week, and I had two things to keep away the tedium of recovering in bed: my kitten who was ecstatic to have his human available all day for cuddles, and this book.

Back in 2003 I like many others got swept up in the Da Vinci Code hype, and while it ran out of steam near the end I had to admit it was one of the most insanely addictive mystery thrillers I’ve ever read. Brown’s writing might be clunky and his characters flat and forgettable, but you don’t read his books for graceful prose and deep psychological insights, you read them for the trashy fast-paced plot and twists that make you turn page after page. Does Deception Point deliver on this front? Mostly.

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Wind River – Film Review

A stark and powerful mystery thriller, with a mood of deep melancholy that stuck with me long after I’ve left the theatre. Part of it is the natural setting, the vast, silent wintry expanses of snow and forbidding mountains of Wyoming, where the story takes place. While beautiful in its own way, this desolate environment makes for a harsh life. Another part is the sorrow and desperation of the people who live on the edge of this wilderness, and the hard-hitting, ugly violence of some key scenes. And there’s the haunting, sparse score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

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The Private Patient by P.D. James – Book Review

I quite enjoyed the previous P.D. James murder mystery I’ve crossed paths with, but I didn’t have as much success with this last entry featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh. Though seeing that it’s the 14th novel in the series, it’s not enough for me to cool down on them altogether. After all, a series this long-running is bound to produce some duds.

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Mulholland Drive – Film Review

mulholland-driveRed curtains and eerie Angelo Badalamenti score? Must be a David Lynch movie! Despite being a massive Twin Peaks fan, I’m not all that familiar with his filmography, so I decided to watch this movie which was also a big breakthrough for Our Own Naomi Watts. I was prepared for off-kilter weirdness, but it’s safe to say the movie exceeded my expectations on that front and messed with my head like few films ever had since… well Twin Peaks probably. There’s something about the Lynch brand of horror – the distortion of the mundane, the vivid unsettling imagery – that really gets under my skin.

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The Girl on the Train – Film Review

girlonthetrainI’m feeling a strong sense of déjà vu since I’ve reviewed Paula Hawkins’ best-selling thriller barely a week ago. I thought that the book was pretty average, but I was curious to see the film and especially what Emily Blunt, who is one of my recent favourite actresses, would do with the main role. As I had expected, she was the only truly remarkable thing in this decent but workmanlike adaptation. She’s always been a compelling presence and here she brings layers and nuance to the character of Rachel, a sad lonely alcoholic whose life fell apart after her husband left her. The plot of the movie sticks closely to the book, with Rachel getting involved into the disappearance of a young woman who, in a rather Hitchcockian fashion, she’d witnessed kissing a strange man from the window of her everyday commuter train. The only radical change is the transatlantic shift of the setting from London to New York, which neither adds nor detracts from the story. It’s hard to see why it was done at all, other than making the film more attractive to the US audience.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock – Film Review

picnic_at__hanging_rock__1975It can be hard to make a story about an unexplained mystery feel dramatically satisfying, yet Peter Weir’s haunting, mesmerising, and utterly singular early film manages just that. It tells of the strange disappearance of three private schoolgirls and their teacher on a Valentine’s Day in 1900, during a day out at the Hanging Rock in Macedon Ranges, and the reverberating impact it has on the school and the local community.

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