Bamboo and Blood: James Church

I have no idea if North Korea is truly like Church displays. I doubt if anyone does. But Church writes so realistically, I have no trouble believing that people such as Inspector O do exist in a society such as Church portrays. Fantastic series.

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The Nature of the Beast: Louise Penny

The only problem with this book is that it isn’t Penny’s last book, which was simply tremendous.

It reminds me of the time I was enthralled by one of my other favourite authors, Tom Robbins, and his JITTERBUG PERFUME, which is still one of the best books I’ve ever read. I eagerly awaited his next book (which turned out to be SKINNY LEGS AND ALL) and felt disappointed, simply because while it was a good book, it wasn’t as great as his masterpiece.

What I don’t like about Penny’s latest is that is so much less organic than her previous books, which seem to have grown out of the characters. This latest takes a plot Penny is obviously invested in (she reported on it before she became a full-time writer), but this book starts with the plot, which she seems to have worked out before writing it, and the characters are plugged into those plots points instead of the other way around, not doing what they’d do naturally.

In my mind, it doesn’t work as well. The book is good, but it’s not “Gamache-good.”