First Time Reading a Classic: And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie

Confession time: I had never read or watched any adaptations of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie. Except for the Family Guy double episode, Psychs and the many other references in popular culture and media that I have watched. But, the original? Nope, never. It does not help that we have kept a literal translation of the original title Ten LIttle Niggers  in Spanish – click here to see it – and when I looked for an English second-hand review copy on Abebooks, I could find none. But, after some failed attempts, and some research, I found the original title, and after last Christmas’ super successful BBC adaptation I knew I had to give it a try.

And Then There Were None cover

Because the book is such a masterpiece and a cultural landmark, I will divide my review in different sections so that I can deal with everything that I have noted down. Also, please keep in mind I am not an expert in Golden Age crime fiction, and my analysis is not an academic one.

The characters

I was really pleased with the presentation of characters. When we have 10 main characters, it can be quite difficult to get a glimpse into who they are, but Christie devoted a paragraph to each of the main characters at the very beginning of the book. Having said this, I had to make a list with their names and a defining quality – profession, age, gender, etc– and,again, Christie made it very easy to put a label on each of them. But, this does not mean that the characters were plain, in fact, as the story progressed, I could see they were more multi-faceted than expected.

Out of the ten characters, ten were women, and although I was not impressed by them, I was not offended either. If we take into account the lack of racial sensibility of the original title, one could expect a very misogynist book, which was not the case. Having said that, I was obviously very interested in Vera Clayhorn’s story because she was a young, single governess and her story reminded me of The Turn of the Screw so much, I wonder now if Christie was inspired by James’ novel.

The crime

One of the things that disturbs me the most about Golden Age crime fiction is that I do not like the detectives at all. I find Poirot petulant and snobbish, and the few Miss Marple mysteries I have read have not left enough of an impression on me, meaning that I was probably not impressed by her. Luckily for me, there is no detective in And Then There Were None: the story is told by a third person, omnipresent narrator who does not get involved in the story. And, as the title suggests, by the end of novel, no one remains alive.

The Setting

I was most impressed by the setting for two reasons: one is that I love the sea, and the sea-side, and the second is that I am not usually captivated by settings, except for Indridason’s dark and twisted tales in Iceland. But, the cold, and misty English weather gave me nightmares about the sea for three nights in a row. There is something magical about the way Christie makes the environment an accomplice in the crime.

I was also really surprised to find out that the house in the novel is described as modern, with electric lights and white (art deco, I guess) style. In popular adaptations the house is usually represented as a nineteenth-century mansion, three or four stories high and relying on candles.

The ending

Do not worry, no spoilers here! I was surprised by the ending and did not see it coming at all although it was the most logical and reasonable solution to the mystery, and now that I think about it: Of course. Of course!

The verdict

And Then There Were None is a classic in 20th century English literature, not only in the crime fiction tradition. The many, many adaptations of the story have made of it a popular story and a  landmark in contemporary popular culture. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading, and who has seen any of the adaptations.

Now I can’t wait to watch the BBC adaptation, which comes highly recommended by every reader I trust. If you are late to the party too, here is the trailer.

I love how they are making it as dark and twisted as the original text, leaving besides popular believes about it being a ‘cosy’ story. it is not. The sea, and the house will haunt readers in their dreams like modern serial killers haunt their victims. If you have ever taken for granted Christie’s talent – like I did myself – And Then There Were None will surprise you, and then remind you why Christie was labelled the Queen of crime.

Author Interview: Helen MacKinven author of Buy Buy Baby

It’s my turn to bring a very special book tour to an end: Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven in a novel about motherhood, domestic abuse, relationships and what society tells women to measure. In Western, affluent countries motherhood is constructed as a women’s ultimate goal in life, and the only one that will make her happy. Not only that, but the media are also on the hunt of ‘baby bumps’ scrutinising female celebrities’ bodies in every week. Jennifer Aniston wrote a very good article for the Huffington Post on the millions of times she has supposedly been pregnant stating that:

This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.

You can read her post here.

Meanwhile, Helen MacKiven has written Buy Buy Baby, a novel about motherhood and how society creates the desire to be a mother at any price in many women. From Goodreads:

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Set in and around Glasgow, Buy Buy Baby is a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing.

Packed full of bitchy banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby.

Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive Ebay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.

Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.

In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.

But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…

I am very happy to have Helen MacKinven over to answer some questions about motherhood, her creative process and how important it is for women all ages – but especially young women like me – to navigate motherhood discourses critically. Welcome, Helen, and thank you very much for your time!

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  1. Why did you choose to write a book about motherhood?

I wanted to explore the yearning that some women feel in their quest to be a mother. I was very lucky to have no problem getting pregnant and neither of the births when I had my two sons was particularly problematic. However, I spent 15 years working as a Road Safety Officer and was involved in many publicity campaigns highlighting the aftermath of a child dying in a road incident. This made me reflect on how I might feel if I was unfortunate enough to experience the same trauma. Would I want to replace the child, like Carol, in Buy Buy Baby? And what if I hadn’t been able to have children naturally? Or struggled to find a suitable partner, like Julia, in my novel? These issues made me wonder how far a woman in those types of situations would go to be a mum. What price would they pay on every level? This triggered the idea of exploring the emotional, psychological, physical, financial and moral implications of the journey Carol and Julia find themselves on because of their desperation to achieve motherhood.

  1. You are a mother – please visit Helen’s guest post at Noami’s here – but have strong views against traditional and essentialist motherhood. How did you arrive to these conclusions (after pregnancy, during motherhood, you knew it all along. As a young woman myself struggling with the representations of motherhood, I would like this question to be as open as you would like).

I’d describe myself as a person first, and it just so happens that I’m also a woman. Whether I’m a mother as well is neither here nor there as regards my sense of self. I wouldn’t say I’m against traditional motherhood, whatever that might mean, what I believe in is doing what is right for you as an individual. I had a wee rant when I woke up to the headlines on Saturday that Andrea Leadsom allegedly claimed that because she is a mother, she was the best candidate for PM as she had a greater stake in the country’s future. This narrow-minded attitude rips my knitting! Of course being a mother has fostered certain skills and attributes in me but that status does not make me superior in any way compared to women who do not have children. I’ve always felt this way and hate the way some women wear the ‘Mummy’ badge with an arrogance that I find distasteful. Being a mum is very important to be me but I’m ‘Helen’, first and foremost. A firm sense of identity should be enough for any woman to be comfortable in their own skin, and for them not to feel under pressure to add an extra label in the misguided belief that it will somehow give them the edge over other women.

HMK with sons

Author Helen MacKinven with her sons, now aged 20 and 23 – (C) Helen MacKiven

  1. The discourses around motherhood have changed a lot in the last two decades. Being a writer and a reader, have you seen this reflected in literature? Could you give us some examples of other novels that question motherhood as some women’s main goal in life?

I’ve always been attracted to ‘interesting’ characters in fiction that aren’t afraid to stick two fingers up at the societal norm. One of my favourite mothers in fiction is Eva Khatchadourian from We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver in which the nature versus nurture debate is examined when a woman finds herself to be the mother of a killer. I can’t think of a better example of a woman discovering that motherhood doesn’t always live up to preconceived ideas. Last year, I went to the Edinburgh Book Festival to hear Meera Syal discuss her novel, The House of Hidden Mothers which was a fascinating insight into the dealings of the corrupt surrogacy market in India. The main character has to confront her desire to be a mother and question the morality of her actions. I also recently read, Dead Babies and Seaside Town by Alice Jolly which is a moving memoir of loss and infertility as Alice battles the system to become a mum again.

  1. Buy Buy Baby is a research project on contemporary motherhood. The title itself is evocative of new and controversial practices such as surrogacy, or even human trafficking. Could you tell us a bit about your research? (Whether this is covered in the media, whether it was difficult to find cases in the UK, if you actually met someone who had experienced any of these practices, etc.)

The first draft of Buy Buy Baby was written six years ago and there have been many developments since the time of the book’s setting. I spent a lot of time researching the various options open to women who are struggling to conceive and there was a wealth of information on the internet. Although I personally haven’t experienced fertility tourism, considered adoption or surrogacy, I know women in my own circle of family and friends who have had to cope with these scenarios. During the first draft, a friend of a friend very kindly offered to share her experience of using a sperm donor so I was fortunate to have access to a real account. My last novel, Talk of the Toun, was very much a case of following the advice to “write what you know” but Buy Buy Baby is an attempt by me to write what I want to know.

  1. Finally, I think it is very important to provide young women (like me!) with challenged views on maternity. Will your next book follow this subversive line?

It’s in my nature to be confrontational (in my writing!) so I’m sure that whatever I write in future will feature dark themes and tackle controversial issues. I’ve got notes and ideas for a new novel set in Scotland after the independence referendum result but with a local historical event related to the Leningrad Siege weaved into the narrative. The novel would be used to feature the solidarity of the Scottish women with those in Russia in the 1940s but with a contemporary context. It would have a feminist and political agenda but I’d hope there would be plenty of opportunity for humour too.

If you wan to check Helen MacKinven’s past blog tour dates and posts for Buy Buy Baby:

blog tour

 

Happiness in a Suitcase! Cardiff Book Haul

Remember when I went to the UK for a week and all I could tweet about was food and books? Well, there was a reason! The lovely Lucy – who you can already follow on Twitter for anything on children’s literature and crime fiction – took me second-hand book shopping in Cardiff the three days I was there. One day, we even went into Waterstones three times, much to my embarrassment, and much to Lucy’s delight. But, while I was there I thought: I can get the brand new books that I know about online in Spain, wouldn’t it be better if I used this precious time to browse second-hand book shops? So we did. Here are my purchases:

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From top to bottom:

Darkly Dreaming by Jeff Lindsay.- This was actually one of Lucy’s copies of the first instalment in the Dexter series, but she kindly gave it to me when I said – to her surprise – that I had never read any Dexter.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (*) (£3.5).- This book has been hugely popular online for a while now because it contains one of the most unlikable female main characters in the history of modern literature. Can’t wait to see what I make of her.

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell (£1 ).- When O’Farrell’s latest novel came out some weeks ago, most bloggers who know me pretty well and who have amazing taste in literature were surprised I had never read of her works. I thought of starting with the latest, This Must Be the Place, but Naomi suggested I gave The Hand that First Held Mine a try first. Couldn’t belive it when I found it for one pound.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (*) (£3.5).- Again, yet another well-known and respected author whose works I have never read. This one comes highly recommended to me for the crime fiction elements on the story.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (£2).- This book came out this year, and I found my copy – slighlty damaged, but with the text intact – at the W&H clearance section. I first heard about McKenzie’s book on Twitter referenced as the new Bernadette.

Women, Health, and Medicine by Agnes Miles (£4).- I was not looking for this book, but I found it at the Oxfam shop and a few chapters seem to perfectly fit my thesis. It was published in 1990 and it covers women as doctors, as well as women as patients, and how gendered the medical practice actually is.

I really, really enjoyed all the book browsing and book shopping not only because it is quite difficult to find good books in English in Spain, but because we have a 21% tax imposed on them, and the only legal discount applied to books is 5%. Imagine my happiness at finding books so cheap!

The books marked with (*) were purchased at TroutmarkBooks, a second-hand book buying and selling shop in the Castle Arcade. They have a wonderful selection of anything from contemporary novels to farming books, all arranged alphabetically by the author’s name. Their general fiction and crime fiction selection is mostly priced between £2.5 £3.5, and they even have Palgrave academic books for £20, when their usual price is up to £150. If you are ever in Cardiff, I highly recommend you spend a few hours browsing TroutmarkBooks, and if you are travelling make sure you leave extra space on your suitcase for the books!

(C) Cardiff Arcades

TroutmarkBooks – (C) Cardiff Arcades

The stationery offer in the UK is quite impressive as well, and I found the perfect planner for the 2016 – 2017 academic year – starting 1st August, ending 31st July – at The Works. Of course, it is pink:

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And last, but no least, I found a border collie cuddly toy at Hamley’s that stole my heart – and my brother’s and my mother’s – and helped me cope with my dog-less days. But, again, I had no space left, and it was quite expensive at £20. (But look at that face! It shall me mine!).

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All I can say is that I had the best of times, and I owe Lucy and her partner a lot for making me feel at home all the time and spoiling me rotten for three days. She even taught me to cook scrambled eggs (UK version!). Cardiff is now my second home and I can’t wait to go back as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I have all these books to keep me entertained.

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

A few months ago I discovered American author Laura Lippman – a bit late to the party, I know – and I started following her on Twitter. She and Megan Abbott saw my confession and told me about Lippman’s upcoming stand-alone novel, Wilde Lake, to be published in the UK the 7th July by Faber Books. So, thanks to Laura I got in contact with Faber Books and they kindly sent me a review copy of Wilde Lake. Abbott suggested I would love it, and she was right.

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Wilde Lake tells the story of Louisa ‘Lu’ Brant, newly elected – and first female! – State’s Attorney of Howard County (Maryland). Lu grew in Columbia and now she is back on the family home, where her father still lives, with her two young children. But returning home is not always an easy task, especially when Lu is occupying her father’s post, and she is back to her childhood home. But past and present meet when Lu investigates the murder of a middle-aged local waitress.

That is much as I am willing to give away in this review, because Wilde Lake is a legal thriller as much as a character study on female public servants, and what it means to grow up. Despite being forty-five, Lu is forced to face her past and to question it when she returns home. What happened to her mother? Why is her older brother a hipster? What happened to her husband? Was her time in Wilde Lake High School as easy and innocent as she remembers it?

Lippman makes an amazing job at creating a complex, and not always likable character. Lu has her own agenda, and she has no trouble following it, but she is fully aware of how female ambition is perceived by the general public, and how she should play her cards wisely if she wants to be re-elected:

The thing I had gotten wrong was showing how desperately I wanted to win. That was what I had to learn to conceal, what my father and AJ knew from birth: disguise your desire.

And she is the first female elected State’s Attorney, and she knows it. Throughout the novel, which is narrated in third person in the present, and Lu’s first person in her past, we are offered glimpses of what it means to be a female public servant. It is not unknown that women in politics are subjected to far more criticism and higher standards than their male counterparts. And Lu knows it:

Is Lu going to have to train people to knock, to remind her former colleagues that she’s the boss? Does it matter? Should they knock? Would a man worry about such things? Would he worry about the knock, or would he worry about telling people to knock?

Lu takes special care to make sure her expensive clothes do not look expensive.

The murder is also especial. For one thing, I think this is the first legal thriller that I read, and I loved the experience. Do not worry about getting lost, or not understanding the jargon. I had very vague notions of American law – which I confess comes from binge-watching Law & Order – and I had no problems following the plot. But, because I do not want to give much away, I will say that there are hints about how gendered a crime can be, and how times have changed regarding women’s treatment by public servants and the police. Lu also presents the reader with her father’s point of view, an old-fashioned one we could argue, and we are allowed to compare social and civil rights changes, but also how the general public is – or should be – more sensitive towards those crimes that involve women’s situation in a male-dominated society.

If, like me, you have never read anything by Laura Lippman, Wilde Lake is your perfect starting point. If you are already a fan of hers, you will know the high-quality to expect from both her writing, and the publishers. My review copy’s cover (pictured above) got compliments from more than one person because of its clever reminiscence of American high school aesthetics. In short, Wilde Lake is a complex legal thriller with dark and twisted glimpses into everyday, all-American small-town life.

This is review #2 for my  20 Books of Summer project

New Review: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda for Los Angeles Review of Books

Today I am very happy to bring you my latest review for Los Angeles Review of Books. When my former editor contacted me he wanted to know if I would like to review books by female writers for the Noir section, and I obviously did not have to think about it. Sadly, my editor is now gone – wishing you the best, Zac – and the Noir section as such is gone, but I am still writing for them.

Zac’s last task before he left was to make sure I got a review copy of Megan Miranda’s first adult novel, All the Missing Girls. What makes this book special is that it is a crime story told backwards. Here’s what Goodreads says:

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It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

The novel is the perfect mix of pop-culture intertextuality, complex structure and character study, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys American crime fiction.

You can read my review ‘A Breath of Fresh, Confusing Air in American Crime Fiction’ here.

10 Summer 2016 Releases

As this post goes live I will be in Cardiff doing some relaxing and book buying in the best of companies. Living in Spain has been making it more and more difficult to purchase books in English physically. On the one hand, because of the lack of diversity local bookshops offer, and, on the second-hand, because of the taxes – anything labelled “culture” gets a 21% tax in Spain – make small paperback editions cost up to 15 € (12 pounds). So, while I am doing some book browsing and book buying I thought I would give you a list of 10 summer releases that I love or can’t wait to read. Most are being published in the UK this summer, but there are a few American releases that you can either buy online or keep an eye on. Believe me, they’re worth some hunting:

  1. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub – Out 30th June (UK)9780718181482

    A tale of modern love story set in contemporary Brooklyn with two generations of people who have more in common than they ever thought. Also, an ode to change in life. My review here.

     

     


  2. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – Out 28th July (UK)You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

    Devon Knox is a young gymnast with one big dream: enter the Olympic team. But, is her middle-class American family ready to share that dream? A perfect tale of ambition, femininity, mother-daughter relationships and what it takes to become who you think you are. My review here.
    Extra: Interview with Megan Abbott about the book here.


  3. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty – Out 28th July (UK)26247008

    I love Liane Moriarty. I think Big Little Lies has done a marvellous job of proving that 21st century crime fiction is also a place where domesticity, school runs and parents evening can exist… and be terrifying. I am saving this one for my 2-to-4 free weeks in August.


  4. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda –Out 28th June (USA)23212667

    I was sent a review copy of this book by the Los Angeles Review of Books and I loved it. It is a story about returning home, family secrets and lost love told backwards. Probably Reese Witherspoon’s next purchase for her production company too. Keep an eye on the Los Angeles Review of Books for my review next month.


  5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – Out 30th June (UK)UK and US covers for The Woman in Cabin 10

    A combination of a locked room mystery on a luxury boat, too much champagne, and the social consequences of being a young woman and a witness to a crime. Or not. My review here.


  6. Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman – Out 7th July (UK)26198780

    I have never read anything by American author Laura Lippman and it is about time. It comes highly recommended by Megan Abbott herself. Her last novel tells the story of Luisa Brant, recently widowed and recently newly elected – and first female –State Attorney, who will find a case closely connected to her family and her past.


  7. The Girls by Emma Cline – Out 16th June (UK)

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    A re-imagining of the Manson Family ranch and the subsequent killings that led to the imprisonment of three young women in California in the summer of 1969. Beautifully written and a rival to Abbott’s talent to faithfully portray the female teenage experience. My review here.


  8. The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown – Out 14th July (UK) 27833796

    The Weird Sisters was one of the first novels that I reviewed for Books & Reviews, and Eleanor was the first author to say yes to an interview. Now she is publishing her second novel, inspired by her own grandmother’s experience in 1920’s Paris. The perfect book to remember that summer a few years ago when I read all I could find about flappers.


  9. Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven – Out 7th July (UK) CjuN_FuWsAATIN_

    A story about motherhood and the capitalisation of women’s bodies merely as reproductive outlets. A must-read for anyone with an interest in the new reproductive technologies.


  10. My Husband’s Wife by Jane Cory – Out 25th August (UK) My-Husbands-Wife2

    This novel has been on my TBR pile since April, but it never really got my attention. After reading some wonderful reviews of lately, it has jumped to the top of the pile. Everyone describes it as a complex take on marriage, with a lot of character building and intersecting stories.

 

 

 

After You Die by Eva Dolan (Zigic and Ferreira #3)

I started reading Eva Dolan’s Zigic and Ferreira series last September, when I was sent a review copy of the second instalment in the series, Tell No Tales, now shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Shortly afterwards I was also sent a review copy of After You Die – book #3 –, but I decided to give it some time before returning to Zigic and Ferreira.

After You Die by Eva Dolan

After You Die picks up seven months after Tell No Tales leaves Mel Ferreira injured by an explosion. After surgery, physiotherapy, and too much time at her parents’ house, she is ready to back to work. Meanwhile, Zigic is expecting his third child, this time a girl, with his wife Anna. As each of them face these life changing events, they will do their best to solve the killing of Dawn, a young mother whose disabled daughter was left to die in the first floor of their house, while the mother bled to death in the ground floor.

Dolan has made of socially critic crime fiction her trademark, and she is not afraid to show the dark, twisted side of contemporary society. As a crime fiction reader, I can think of only another female British writer – Sarah Hilary – who does an effort to explore what is wrong in twenty-first century Western society. As a feminist, I have come to realise it is also Dolan and Hilary who make the greatest effort to portray how women are at a special risk in such contexts. After You Die is not an easy read because the author depicts disability from an intersectional point of view, showing that the lack of physical movement is just the tip of the iceberg. Holly, the disabled daughter of the victim, was just sixteen when she broke her back, and Dolan explores how it has affected her life: how everyone assumes sexuality and sexual needs are erased from disabled people, how their dreams are taken with a pinch of salt, how patronising people can be. And how it would affect a teenager girl and her mother.

Motherhood and pregnancy are also important themes, with Zigic’s own worries about heavily pregnant Anna haunting the investigation. Dolan explores what motherhood means for different people, including fostered children. But, she also explores the expectations that come from motherhood, that are ironically very similar to those of disable people: erasing of sexuality and sexual needs, total devotion to the care of a person, lack of physical freedom to go out and have a life outside the house, etc. Although I am aware that motherhood does not mean this to every woman, Western society has built ‘good’ motherhood around sacrifice. So, when Dawn is faced with taking care of Holly and motherhood and disability intersect, we are questioned about our own expectations about them, with Dawn’s right to reconstruct her life after her divorce and after Holly’s accident as she very well pleases. However, not everyone around her seemed to agree, and her personal and intimate life and choices are examined during the investigation, revealing people’s unfair expectations and prejudices about motherhood and female agency and identity.

After You Die is the best novel in the Zigic and Ferreira series until now. A true page-turner, I took my time enjoying the complicated investigation and thinking about the questions Dolan poses to the reader, but I ended up reading the book in a few sittings. Fast-paced, complex, and subversive, After You Die is the perfect example of Dolan’s trademark crime fiction: high quality, challenging, and very, very addictive.

This is review #1 for my  20 Books of Summer project.