Eileen – Book Review

download (2)A few pages into this book , there was only one thought that was go on and on in my  mind – Eileen Dunlop is one suspense fiction heroine who you won’t forget easily .

I have read shelf-loads of books in the suspense genre , but none of the heroines stood out to me as Eileen Dunlop does . Almost all the heroines have been beautiful , intelligent , competent , compassionate …. the list can go on . And yes , damsels in distress – eventually .

But Eileen is not like the others even remotely –

*Plot blurb starts here for those of you who want to dive right into the review*

Eileen is an insecure young woman who day-dreams about life in the Big City but is too preoccupied with

a.) running the errands / caring for her alcoholic father who seems to be on the verge of lunacy = getting him his bottle of gin from the local alcohol store ; locking up his shoes in the boot of the car so that he doesn’t wander off in his perpetual drunken stupor only for the town police force to bring back Father Dunlop with some polite words about needing to look after him ; keeping his gun for him to prevent him for turning it on the passers-by while she is at work .

b.) perversely fantasizing about nearly everybody she has come in contact with = fantasizing sexcapades of brawny prison guards & imagining homosexual encounters between office ladies who are her colleagues at the boys’ correctional institution . Even the adolescent boys in the institution too were no far from her fantasies .

During the weekends though, for a change , she maintains  a stakeout of one of the guards ‘ houses whom she crushes on . Or maybe goes for a movie or two . Sometimes , she goes on a shoplifting or shop-damaging spree .

When the beautiful , stylish and charismatic Rebecca St John starts out as a counselor , Eileen , characteristic of her hatred for beautiful women , does not take too well to her – she takes Rebecca to be her rival for her ( almost-null ) chances with Randy ( that guard whose house she stakes out every weekend ) . But Rebecca seems to want to befriend her genuinely – which is too much for Eileen who hasn’t heard a friendly word from anybody for a long time . She wants to rise up to the demands of the friendship which Rebecca seems to be offering .

How far can she go to keep Rebecca happy whom she sees as a ticket to all glamorous things in life ? Be an accomplice to a crime ?

Literary Awards

Man Booker Prize Nominee ( 2016 )

Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Novel ( 2015 )

National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee For Fiction ( 2015 )

The Center For Fiction First Novel Prize Nominee For Longlist ( 2015 )

Review :

Eileen can be a character study – that is to say a good two – thirds of the novel , the author lets the readers to know Eileen really well by making her the narrator . We come to know the people in her life – her alcoholic father and  the colleagues at her workplace . She also touches upon several significant memories of her early adulthood and her childhood . In recapping her memories about her 20′ s , we get to know about her regressive tendencies and her inner self – the one which she hadn’t given a glimpse of , to anybody till now .

As the old saying goes , still waters run deep – Eileen’s facade , which she prefers to call the ‘death mask’, perfectly conceals a young woman who is consumed by self loathing . She is insecure about her appearance and at 24 , still had not come to terms with her womanliness . Her habits are freakish to say the least – sometimes they are downright distasteful . To put it simply , Eileen is a weirdo – her mental make-up has more to do with this than her physical appearance .

Eileen has this absurd idea that Rebecca ‘ s friendship would transform her inside out – she would become like the other girls , whom she hated with a passion for their charisma and beauty . Doesn’t it seem a bit absurd and self – centered that Eileen relies on one of those beautiful young women whom she had learnt to hate to help her transformation ?

“In time we hate that which we often fear ” – William Shakespeare

In that sense , Eileen’s  obsession with her self – her anguish , her dreams , her perverted ideas , her views on herself almost border on insanity . And her obsession with Rebecca is also equally unhealthy .

The one good thing that came out of her entanglement with Rebecca was that  , she was finally shoved into action to move to the Big City . Let me not further dwell on the plot – line but I hope you got sufficiently intrigued with Eileen .

Eileen is an unlikely heroine but she is one of a kind – one whom you cannot miss . She is a rarity whom we do not come across often in fiction . She is one heck of a story-teller and the story is equally interesting as Eileen herself . Go , grab a copy of Eileen soon – this is one book which is definitely making to my list of best reads this year .

If you are interested in picking up few more books for your bookshelf you can read my reviews and recommendations by clicking on the below links –

I’ve got my eyes on you

The Reunion

Instructions for a heat wave

Seriously underrated Christie must-reads

The Girl Before

It’s always the husband

For more book reviews and other books – related content , follow my blog . Have a look around my blog and let me know your thoughts on the posts here .

Until the next post then…

Closed room mysteries of Christie’s you MUST read….

There are plot devices which are recurrent in several of Christie’s mysteries

Closed Circle of Suspects –

This is Christie’s favorite plot device I guess – close to  a dozen  of Christie’s  mysteries feature this one. Christie only needs to bring a bunch of  people together before bumping off one of them and the game begins …

The settings for several of her closed circle mysteries are widely varied – trains , country manors , a tropical beach resort , a private island , a luxury cruise , dinner tables (!!) that the reader doesn’t have the “I’ve-seen-this-before” complaint .

Her first suspense novel , The Mysterious Affair At Styles is credited to having used this plot device first which had become something of a rage with the writers of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction ( first half of 20th century ) . Here are a few closed-circle-mysteries from the Christie’s pen which you should definitely check out if you have not read these earlier –

And Then There Were None

Ten people have arrived at a private island for a weekend getaway . They are strangers to each other but their unknown host seems to know their darkest secrets . And when the they are murdered one by one , the survivors become the suspects and each must look out for oneself . But none would make it out of the island alive – they have been marked for murder .

Murder On The Orient Express

Poirot is travelling in the Orient Express . Samuel Ratchett , an elderly American tries to hire him as he has fears for his life which Poirot refuses out of distaste for the man . However , the third morning Ratchett is found dead and an interesting revelation presents itself – Samuel Ratchett is none other than Cassetti who abducted little Daisy Armstrong and killed her despite collecting the ransom .

Has retribution caught up with him finally ? With 13 possible suspects , the guessing game is a dream for the crime buff in the reader . But don’t think you can figure out the killer ….

A Caribbean Mystery

Miss Marple has gone to a Caribbean island for a vacation . Major Palgrave , whom she meets at the beach resort tells her about a wife killer who got away with murder twice . He even proceeds to fish a photograph which he claims to be that of the wife killer .  But when he takes a look at the photograph and somebody nearby , he hastily changes the subject . Miss Marple is convinced that the story old Major Palgrave told about the wife killer had been true when he is found dead the next day . So , which one among the guests at the Golden Palm resort is the seasoned murder?Will he get away with yet another murder this time also?

 

the end

Death Comes As The End

Set in 2000 BC Thebes, the story follows a spate of murders in the house of Imhotep, the Ka mortuary priest. It all began with the death of Nofret, his young concubine from Memphis. Her arrival at Imhotep’s house had not been without some animosity . She antagonized Imhotep’s sons and their wives – only the threat of disinheritance seemed to keep Yahmose and Sobek’s wives from bullying her any further. Her death seemed to bring everything back to as it was before Nofret’s arrival –  BUT IT WAS NOT SO .

Soon , as Renisenb , Imhotep’s daughter witnesses , the family members become victims to the unknown murderer one by one – Or is it the vengeful spirit of Nofret exacting her revenge on the family?

Christie puts together a really convincing ,  racy suspense with a jaw-dropping ending in a timeline that we don’t have much idea about .  I think this book alone can establish  Christie’s unsurpassed mastery in crime fiction writing – I can’t recommend this enough.

Cards on the table:

Four sleuths – Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard; Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, famed writer of detective stories; Col. Race of His Majesty’s Secret Service; and Hercule Poirot get together for an evening of bridge at Mr. Shaithana’s house with four other people each of whom is suspected to have murdered somebody in their past and gotten away with the murder . But , before the first rubber was completed Mr. Shaithana is found dead .

Who amongst the four had killed Shaithana thinking that (s)he could get away with murder a second time ? And with our Poirot on the scene too….

Now that you are here , just have a look around my blog …..If you want new books to add to your TBR please hit the follow button . I would be posting book reviews and other interesting book related stuff…And do provide your valuable comments on the post .

If you think that some book should definitely make it to the list , please mention in the comments below .

[This is part-1 of a series of posts where I take a look at some of the recurrent interesting plot devices in Christie’s novels and the books you MUST pick up which play out these plot devices masterfully ]

You can also have a look at this post where I talk about some of the most underrated Christie mysteries which should make it to your TBR if you have not read them already.

 

 

Book Review: I’ve Got My Eyes On You

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I’ve Got My Eyes On You is my Mary Higgins Clark book after quite a long time .

Plot Synopsis :

Kelly Dowling is found dead in the swimming pool in her house . She had hosted a party the previous night for her classmates before they all left for their respective colleges when her parents were away from home . The guests included Kerry’s Harvard-bound boyfriend Alan Crowley , with whom she had a serious fallout during the evening .  Jamie Chapman , Kerry’s next door neighbor was also angry that Kerry had not invited him to her party . Or is there somebody else? Aline , Kerry’s elder sister pitches in to help the police bring the sister’s murderer to justice – She just doesn’t know that Kerry’s killer is ready to kill a second time to save himself .

Hopefully I have got you sufficiently intrigued with this short blurb.

Review :

As I had mentioned at the start , I am picking up a Mary Higgins Clark after quite a long time . Also , having read several of her titles , I felt that this plot was comparatively a regular one and not something that makes you feel that ONLY the Queen of Suspense could pull off such a plot-line which she did every single time during the ’90s . Still , the storytelling kept me hooked till the last page and I never got an inkling about the identity of the killer .

The story is paced well so that people like me don’t take a peek at the last 2 chapters to get to know who is the murderer [ guilty of DOING it when the story moves slowly sometimes ] . This is one of my chief complaints with some of the new authors I have tried . Sometimes the suspense novels become family dramas when the writers try to pack too many into the book – too descriptive language and too much after-crime drama that the focus on the crime actually dwindles . Put that together with a plot-line which actually is not very interesting / follows similar trail like a previous read , you can be sure that I will plod on with that book during my short breaks in office when I can’t accommodate my one-sitting finish .

Trust Clark how to tell her story – all her books have been one-sitting reads for me and this one was no different . With Clark the story has the right amount of everything – You won’t be put off by the romance that is slowly developing as the novel proceeds or when you get to see the family dramas in the victim’s / suspects’ families . Clark surely knows how much of anything other than suspense ,  a suspense fanatic would accept in a suspense novel . While there have been complaints that Agatha Christie does not allow her characters to develop , you would never have that complaint with Clark – through her words you get to see the despair of the suspects , how the families of the victims cope with the loss of a loved one eventually and yet she keeps the narrative racy .

Of course , as someone who has read several of her titles I can identify with a few staples in her books – the female leads who are featured in Clark’s books do not rely on a man to help them with their problems despite being beautiful , successful and everything else that a female ought to be to qualify as a female lead in several of the books .  Not even one of them have been damsels in distress – they are ready to rough it out . And they have few good people helping them along the way . Another thing that stands out in a Clark novel is that the characters move on at the end of the book – they look forward to new beginnings . Perhaps , that might be a reflection of Clark’s own attitude to life – this needs some elaboration I guess . If you are free head on to this Wikipedia page to read her full bio – She truly is an inspiring lady . And of course , there is a romance slowly developing between two characters and a thrilling climax where the guy saves the girl from the deranged psychopath [Am I giving away too much ?? ] .

Yeah , I have a few favorite lines from her books which are so beautiful that makes you wonder if you are reading a suspense . Here are some for you…

[….] How can our all-loving and merciful God fail to protect us and those we love at the time when we most need him? […] ”

” The best answer I’ve heard came in a sermon given by an elderly priest many years ago. He was travelling in the Middle East and was overwhelmed by the majesty of the Persian rugs he saw . Those gorgeous creations skillfully woven into such beautiful designs . One day he was in a shop where those rugs were on display . He walked behind one that was hanging on hooks from the ceiling . Looking at it from behind , he was shocked to behold a confusing array of threads that led nowhere . Such beauty on one side , total disharmony on the other , but both part of the same plan . It was then that the message became clear to him . In life we see only the back side of the rug , We don’t know how or why our unspeakable hardships are part of a beautiful design . That is why having faith is so important .”

 

I guess I’ll leave you to check out this book for yourself . I would recommend it for all my readers and would love to hear from you about how your reading went .

Rating : 3.75 / 5 *

*  I have given a 3.75 because I have read other titles by the same author which had more complex plots and some even scared the hell out of me. For a first time Mary Higgins Clark reader , surely it would have been at-least a 4 pointer . So , make sure you pick up this book for a good suspense read .

Now that you are here , just have a look around my blog …..If you want new books to add to your TBR please hit the follow button . I would be posting book reviews and other interesting book related stuff…And do provide your valuable comments on the post .