The 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. She 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.