Tuesday, 10 February 2009

this book wot I loved

I read about Diamond Dove over at Matilda and wanted to read it from Middlemiss’s post of an interview with Adrian Hyland. And it wasn’t straightforward, because you cannot get Diamond Dove here. It turns out you will be able to get it, soon, but the English Branch had to come through for me on this one. And hooray that they did.

I was put off by the phrase “An Emily Tempest Mystery” on the cover, because 1) I’m not a big fan of The Mystery Genre when it’s purposely identified as a genre, and 2) I just hate that construct on a book cover. You might as well put “A Pigeonholeable Sort Of Mystery”. Y’know? Which it isn’t.

So. I’m not a marker-up of books. Yet here it sits, bristling with yellow stickynotes at the many bits I loved. Almost all of them turns of phrase and dialogue. Hyland rocks at dialogue. You’d want to talk to every single character in the book (or have them talk to you, endlessly. Even the bad guys. Especially the bad guys). Everyone’s a collection of images (miner dad Jack’s a rock-hard torso and piercing blue eyes), fleshed out in how he or she talks.

This is not a quiet novel; it’s big and messy and noisy and seedy. Everyone shouts; everything’s filthy and held together with number eight wire. It’s a great yarn, no doubt. A murder mystery with a good cast of suspects, tangled up in land rights and geology and dreaming and drinking and dangerous dogs.

But I was secondarily interested in the story (partly because I’m so incurious about whodunthings; like I said, not a Mystery fan). I’d have read a year-in-the-life of these people just to be around the characters in the places in which they find themselves.

Ok…not quite true. There’s a bit where it gets mired in relationshippiness and leaves alone the mystery, and although the narrator makes a point of telling us she got distracted, I found it…distracting. I was not so taken with the grown man in a red beanie (that is where the Canadian word for it, toque, should come in, because it sounds like at least a half-grown up item of clothing; o gods, could the beanie be the whole reason I was not on board with the sex in this book? I think it was).

But. That was truly the only point at which my wild enthusiasm for every single thing in this novel dipped even slightly.

I’m sad I won’t run into these characters again. (Apparently there’ll be three books in this series, but Hyland reckons he’s aiming Emily off to far-flung places for the next ones, or something.) I will miss them. I already do miss them, since I finished the book. You can’t go about being spoilery and ruining endings, but I was especially keen on minor heroism from an unexpected quarter at the end. I should like to see more from that quarter. And Emily’s dad had better be around again. When Motor Jack starts “marshalling his narrative forces” there are very few people I’d rather listen to.

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