Let Me Introduce You to My New Friend*

Felicity YoungThe sad truth is, there’s never enough time to read everything one wants to read. That’s one reason why TBR piles grow the way they do. But despite the problem of too many books and not enough reading time, I think it’s very much worth the investment to take a chance on a ‘new-to-you’ author. Not only are there sometimes real treasures to be discovered, but there’s also the benefit of broadening your horizons. That’s part of why I’m delighted to be a part of the New (To Me, Anyway) meme, facilitated by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. Bloggers from all over the world post about authors whose work they’re just discovering, and we all get to discover new books.

My choice for the last quarter of 2014 was a difficult one. In fact, I couldn’t make a final decision. So I’ll share the work of two very talented authors this time. One is Australia’s Felicity Young. The other is Japan’s Kanae Minato.

Young was born in Germany, but spent years attending boarding school in the UK. Later, her family moved to Western Australia, where she currently lives. She’s got a background in nursing, but also has experience in farming and raising sheep and orphaned kangaroos. And in writing.

She has written a few books featuring Detective Senior Sergeant Stevie Hooper of the Perth Police. But I first got to know her through her Dr. Dorothy ‘Dody’ McCleland series. This series takes place in London not long after the turn of the 20th Century. McCleland is a forensic pathologist, one of the very few women in that field. Through this series, readers get a look at life in London just before World War I. Young’s nursing background is evident, too, as readers get the opportunity to see how medical professionals went about their business during those years. The series starts not long after the famous trial of Harvey Hawley Crippen for the murder of his wife, and that’s not the only real-life case that’s mentioned in the series. It’s obvoius that Young has ‘done her homework’ in terms of the era and the people who lived then.

Want to know more about Felicity Young? It’s right here.

Or you can check her Twitter site.

 

The other new-to-me author whose work made a real impression on me in this past quarter is Japanese writer Kanae Minato. Kanae MinatoShe was a Hiroshima homemaker and home economics teacher before writing her debut novel Confessions, which is how I ‘met’ her.

Confessions is the story of middle school teacher Yuko Moriguchi, who is also the single mother of four-year-old Manami. When her daughter is killed, Yuko is devastated, as you can imagine. Then, she finds out that Manami’s death was murder. When she discovers who was responsible, she plans her own kind of revenge. This story is told from Yuko’s point of view as well as from a few other points of view. So readers get insight not only into the death itself, but also into life in a modern Japanese school. There’s also a good look at the middle school social structure. The book also includes some real moral ambiguity. There are questions of what, exactly, is the best way to deal with young offenders, and of what exactly we mean by ‘justice.’ None of the characters is painted in ‘black’ or ‘white,’ so there is also a strong element of ambiguity there, too: who, exactly, is the victim? On the one hand, Yuko is most definitely a victim; her only child has been deliberately killed. On the other hand, as her plan is revealed and unfolds, we learn more about the killers. We also see more of what Yuko is really like. It’s not at all a clear case of ‘good guy, bad guy.’ I hope that more of her work will be translated into English.

You can find out more about Kanae Minato right here.

You can find out more about Confessions right here.

Now, please do yourself a favour and visit Mysteries in Paradise. It’s simply one of the finest crime fiction blogs that there is. If it’s not on your blog roll, it should be.
 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from No Doubt’s New Friend.

32 Comments

Filed under Felicity Young, Kanae Minato

32 responses to “Let Me Introduce You to My New Friend*

  1. I wonder if I’ll ever have the time to read your suggestions Margot. But it’s always nice to read your blog posts.

    • That’s very kind of you, José Ignacio. I know exactly what you mean about not having enough time to read everything one wants to read. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that either…

  2. Clarissa Draper

    Oh no, now my TBR pile got even bigger. Thanks for the introductions!

  3. Keishon

    Hi, Margot. Thanks for the introductions. Lord knows I don’t need any extra books right now but Confessions sounds like an interesting novel. I’ve put it on my wishlist to buy later. Thanks.

    • Keishon – Confessions is an unusual novel and in many ways it’s disturbing. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s not an easy book to read. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on it if you do get the chance to read it.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading Confessions for my January in Japan reading challenge. Felicity Young sounds interesting too, especially given that I don’t read nearly enough Australian fiction. Thank you for your great recommendations! As usual.

    • Marina Sofia – Thanks for the kind words. Confessions is not an easy book in a lot of ways. But the style is engaging and it’s one of those books that really makes you think. And I do recommend Felicity Young’s work. Her Dody McCleland series is well-researched and the stories are absorbing.

  5. Margot – thank you for reminding me about Felicity Young. An Anatomy of Murder has now been purchased as it had been on my wishlist prior to your fantastic spotlight of this book last year. I’m really intrigued by this historical crime series.

  6. Thanks Margot – I definitely want to try and make time for these two writers – as you say, the TBR is always teetering but one needs all the help available to edge certain books nearer the top – and for that, many thanks.

  7. Margot, both these authors sound very interesting and Kanae Minato is totally new to me. That books sounds a bit dark.

    • Tracy – It really is dark, and what makes it even more unsettling is that Minato paints that dark picture without being in the least ‘gory’ or ‘bloody.’

  8. Mysteries is in my reader! Blogs grow as fast as my tbr though!

    Thank you for introducing us to two very interesting authors Margot. More for my tbr…

    • Rebecca – Oh, I know exactly what you mean about the TBR! As I think on it, what interests me about these particular two authors is that they’re quite different. Their style, their plots and so on are distinct. And yet, both got me absorbed in their work, and you can’t ask for more than that. I hope if you try their work, you’ll enjoy it. And as for Mysteries in Paradise? I think no crime fiction blog roll is complete without it. That (and your own excellent blog) are two of my must-visits.

  9. Col

    Cheers for the intros. I’m cutting back on more books at the minute, so will hold fire!

  10. A really nice idea. I have so many unread books that it occasionally gives me palpitations thinking about it. But something like this makes it much more manageable.

    • I have quite a lot of unread books too, Sarah. I don’t know if I’ll ever get all of them read. But I do love the idea of thinking of one or two new-to-me authors whose work stands out. And if it means some authors get a bit more readership, so much the better.

  11. Patti Abbott

    The very few Japanese mysteries I have read were all disturbing. Perhaps it is the translation but I doubt it.

  12. I haven’t come across Felicity Young, but ‘Confessions’ is one of the more original crime novels I’ve read recently. There’s something about Japanese crime novels – their society seems to be in a state of flux that leads to the books always being quite unsettling…

    • FictionFan – I do recommend Felicity Young’s work. I hope you’ll get the chance to try it. As to Confessions, I agree it is very original. And yet, it’s not ‘out there.’ Perhaps that’s part of what adds to its unsettling nature. You have a point too about Japanese crime fiction in general. I can claim no expertise really, but what I’ve read of it can indeed get quite disturbing.

  13. So pleased to see Felicity Young featured on your blog, Margot. I am a big fan of her Dody McCleland books (and she’s a lovely person, BTW). Kanae Minato sounds like one to try, too. I was just speaking on the weekend with someone who’s a fan of Japanese crime fiction – I wonder if she’s on to this?

    • Angela – I’m not surprised that Felicity Young is a lovely person. She’s always very pleasant to me in our online interactions. And the Dody McLeland series is terrific. Well-researched and good stories. I think you’d find the Minato very interesting on a lot of levels actually. It’s got that moral ambiguity you find fascinating. And the story itself is compelling too (well, I found it so). If you do get the chance to try Confessions, I’ll be interested in what you think of it.

  14. You are so right Margot. There is just not enough time to read everything we want to read, and yet one keeps wanting to read more.
    Thanks for a great post, though I am not sure if I will get to either of these authors anytime soon- my resolution is to finish the books I have before adding new ones to the pile (let me see how long that resolution lasts)

    • Natasha – I know exactly what you mean about finishing the books one has. There are so many I’ve yet to read, and yet, each month, more great new books are released. It’s hard to really keep a resolution to leave them alone.

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