The Homage

3 Little Books

An And Then There Were None sandwich

The Homage.

The Tribute.

The thing that has the same premise as that other thing, but slightly different.

The Copycat.

This post is about my favourite mystery novel, and two books that pay homage to it.

My favourite mystery is And Then There Were None. I love the book. I’ve seen the play and two movie adaptations. I adore the recent miniseries. Ten strangers are invited to a remote island by U. N. Owen. They are all a little on edge, and getting to know one another when a recording airs their dirty laundry, with accusations of a variety of crimes. And then, one by one, they start to die.

This book has a place on my re-read hall of fame shelf. I read it every few years, when some of the details become fuzzy.

So, when I found out there were not one, but two books that bill themselves as an homage to ATTWN, I was intrigued.

Endgame by Jeffrey Round is a contemporary tale about the reunion of a notorious punk band on, you guessed it, a remote island. The former band mates aren’t on the best of terms, but they, along with a group of band adjacent people are determined to have a good time. Until a secret from their past is revealed. And then, one by one, they start to die. I was really excited to read this book, and it did not disappoint. I also enjoyed that the characters knew each other before arriving at the island, versus the strangers of ATTWN, and that there was one incident that sparked the murders, instead of ten.

Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente is another contemporary tale where nine comedians and a personal assistant are summoned to a private island with the offer of working with a comedy legend. The comedians are in different stages of their careers – some starting out, some at their peak, some past their best before date. It comes as a surprise to the group when their host shows up via video, rather than in person. And then, one by one, they start to die. While familiar with the ATTWN plot, this book still managed to surprise me. I found the motivation(s) for the murders a little petty, but the book as a whole was enjoyable.

Are there any ATTWN homages I’m missing? Are there any favourites of yours with a worthy homage?

 

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Memoirs

Everyone seems to have a memoir. Or a book of essays. More of an observation than a complaint. I also seem to be reading a lot of them as of late.

Must reads:

Hunger by Roxane Gay. Yes, I’ve mentioned this before. I think everyone should read this book. I’m comforted to learn that I’m not alone with my restaurant navigation anxiety. (Chairs and tables so close together, why?)

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. Former child star, now a writer. Well worth your time.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul. This essay collection is a lot funnier than I thought it would be (the essay about finding and losing a perfect skirt is perfection) but also tackles serious and timely topics (rape culture, the online abuse women receive.)

Not bads:

Grace Notes by Katey Sagal. I didn’t realize she was a singer before she was a somewhat reluctant actress. She’s led an interesting life thus far. I remember the first time I saw her without her Peggy Bundy hair and wardrobe and I didn’t believe it was her.

I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From : Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer. I know her from Arrested Development. And Archer. And and and. I read this a few years ago, and the essays were entertaining, but I can’t say I remember most of them. My takeaway was to not lend her shoes (spoiler alert: she may pee on them.)

The Twitter account is better:

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. An entertaining enough read, but her Twitter account is better.

 

This list is not comprehensive. And I’m always looking for a good memoir. What should I read next?

 

Format Change

Hey. It’s been awhile.

As a member of a few book clubs over the years, I found that while I mildly enjoy talking about the book, I look forward to when the conversation eventually turns to “what are you reading/what have you read lately?” Without fail, this becomes a passionate discussion as I madly make mental notes of books to add to my forever expanding TBR pile.

There are also a number of book blogs out there doing it better and in a more timely fashion than this gal.

So, I’ve decided to periodically (wink wink book joke!) update this musty ole blog with a few gems I’ve recently read or old reads that I’ve recently thought about, rather than a full review.

To tide you over before I get into the whole posting-things-again groove, there is one book I wholeheartedly recommend: Hunger by Roxane Gay.

It’s raw, it’s heartbreaking, it’s thought provoking.

If you can ever see her interviewed in person, go. If not, here’s a video of her at the Toronto Reference Library.

Abandoned : The Troop

Abandoned: The Troop by Nick Cutter


I should start this by saying I don’t read a lot of horror. But, being October, I wanted a spooky read. The Troop has some good buzz, and I thought I’d give it a try. I got to page 94.

If creepy is your thing, this book is for you.

It all starts on a small, deserted island off of Prince Edward Island. A Scoutmaster (and doctor) and 5 teenaged boys are camping out, dropped off by a boat that will return for them at the end of the weekend.

And then the stranger arrives. In the middle of the night. Via a stolen boat. He’s obviously sickly – emaciated is an apt description – and Scoutmaster Tim does his best to help the stranger while also protecting the boys. And then there’s an encounter with a snake ball, and a worm-like parasite, and cue me scratching myself everywhere like someone in withdrawal and getting questioning looks in the waiting room I was reading in.

The book jacket describes it at 28 Days Later meets Lord of the Flies, so if those are your thing, perhaps the book is for you.

Alas, I have the heebie jeebies and the only way I can get rid of them is by abandoning the book.

For those wondering, yes, I’m still itchy.

Thriller Double Shot

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

This looks like a fancy backdrop, but it's totally my couch

This looks like a fancy backdrop, but it’s totally my couch

Cancel your plans. You have reading to do.

Amelia:

Busy single mom and lawyer (or is it lawyer and single mom?) Kate is rushing to pick up her freshly suspended daughter Amelia from her private school. When she arrives, it turns out the suspension isn’t a big deal, since Amelia is dead after jumping off the roof. Finally coming to grips with her loss, she receives an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. Kate throws herself into investigating what happened to Amelia on that roof, and what happened in the months before her death. The book incorporates texts and ugh Facebook posts to tell the story, which is a nice way to advance the plot. It also illustrates how happy I am to not be a 15 year old girl today.

Quebert:

An alternate title could be Red Herring. Or, Here’s the Solution…Kidding!

Marcus Goldman spends far too long talking about being a writer, getting rich, losing his drive and getting writer’s block. Things get interesting when he talks about his mentor, Harry Quebert. And then the body of a missing 15 year old Nola is found on Harry’s property. Did I mention that she’d been missing for 33 years, and that Nola and Harry had an affair when he was in his 30s? Obviously, Harry is arrested, and Marcus sets out to investigate and prove Harry’s innocence. Predictably, the folks of the sleepy small town are not happy about this, and are all too happy to blame Harry for the crime. While investigating, Marcus is roped into writing a book about the murder. Each chapter, we’re treated to a writing lesson that Harry gave Marcus in the past that ties in with his investigation and book.

I didn’t set out to do a double review, but the more I thought about it, the more the similarities between the two books are striking. Both books are haunted by a dead 15 year old girl. Each has someone trying to piece together the last few months of their lives. Ditto for sex scandals of varying degrees. And don’t get me started on the secrets and lies. Both require a slightly higher than usual suspension of disbelief. Both are worthy reads, and I whole heartedly recommend both.

If I had to choose a winner, I think Quebert has the edge of Ameila. It’s almost twice as long, and I finished it quicker than Amelia. While Quebert is bursting with red herrings, I didn’t mind. My least favourite part of the book was the beginning. Truth be told, I was thisclose to abandoning it. Thankfully, I stuck with it.

Nit picky questions/observations about the books to be read after you’ve read them (ie Spoilers):

Being neither a single mother nor a lawyer, I may be wrong, but would Kate’s career really have advanced that far? Wouldn’t it be difficult to rise so far, so fast, especially as a young single mom? Considering that she seemed to be doing better than her contemporary from law school, I call a little shenanigans on that.

How could she be so wrong about Amelia’s paternity? Especially with the whole genetic disease factor.

Did anything happen to Zadie’s mom? Harassment charges?

The true identity of Ben: seriously?

Who knew lawyers were so potent and so stupid with birth control?

Could there be any more incorrect solutions to Quebert? This guy did it! No, actually it was that guy! Wait a minute…that guy! Yeesh.