Sweet Nothing – Richard Lange

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imageEvery life is uncertain. Every choice is a danger.

Set on the dark side of Los Angeles, this is a masterful collection of edge-of-your-seat tales: a prison guard must protect an inmate being tried for heinous crimes. A father and son set out to rescue a young couple trapped during a wildfire after they cross the border. An ex-con trying to make good as a security guard stumbles onto a burglary plot. A young father must submit to blackmail to protect the fragile life he’s built. Sweet Nothing is an intense and gripping journey through real lives with big problems, from one of America’s great short story writers.

There’s nothing  sweet about it……

I’ve read nothing of Richard Lange before, and suffering from a bad case of book hangover, I picked up Sweet Nothing, with a view to easing myself back into the saddle, taking the short stories as ‘bite sized chunks’ I could easily pick up and put down.

After reading the first story, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, so I have to admit to putting the book aside to try again at a better time. When I finally picked it back up again, I was surprised how quickly each story passed before me.  It’s an interesting mix of tales that took me through a range of emotions as I read, which is something I’d more often associate with a full length novel, rather than from a collection of short stories.

With an eclectic mix of heroes and anti-heroes along with the dilemmas, decisions and tragedies of everyday life both, modern and in the past, forming the heart of each read, it’s a dark read, where the book title truly fits because there’s definitely nothing sweet about it.

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I Can See In The Dark – Karin Fossum

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imageRiktor doesn’t ask the policeman why he’s stormed into his house without knocking – he’s certain that someone has finally realised what happened that day.

As the policeman questions him however, Riktor realises that he’s being accused of something completely unexpected – something he has nothing to do with.  But can Riktor convince the policeman that he’s innocent of one wrongdoing without revealing that he’s guilty of another, far more terrible, crime.

It took me a little longer than usual to get into I Can See In The Dark, but once I reached that point where everything just began to slot neatly into place, the pure genius of Fossum’s writing came to the fore.

Riktor is a truly awful character whose behaviour will have your skin crawling as you read. he is genuinely evil and takes great pleasure in tormenting those in his care, expressing in bursts of cruelty the carefully controlled rage that bubbles beneath the surface.

What I really enjoyed about the book, was not only how ‘creeped out’ I felt at Riktor’s behaviour, and his lack of even unreasonable reasoning behind it which comes across clearly in his narrative, but also the irony of his situation, being suspected and prosecuted for a crime, although not the one he really committed, and yet this isn’t even the delicious twist in the tale that comes further in. 

If you fancy a something a bit different from your usual crime read, I Can See In The Dark is a fantastic book, from a Queen of crime.