The Dinner by Herman Koch. This was a book in which I did not like one single character. They are all nuts. Two brothers and their wives go out for dinner in some city in the Netherlands to discuss what to do about their sons who have committed a crime but have not yet been found out by the police. It takes pages and pages to get to this point. Dinner goes on forever with every course described in endless detail. There are many, many flashbacks, each helping to reveal the various relationships in each family, and how the different family members relate to each other, and how incredibly screwed up they all are. To what lengths will they go to protect their sons and this family secret? You will reach the end of ‘the dinner’ still hungry, and maybe even a bit nauseous.
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. There are some hard to like characters in this book too, but most of them get more likable as the story goes on. Jim and Bob Burgess are attorneys working in New York, called home to Shirley Falls, Maine, when their sister Susan’s teenage son gets himself in trouble. There is a lot of family history to be revealed which explains the siblings character traits and strained relationships with each other. It’s not just a story about personal, marital and family issues, it is also a story of cultural clashes, with some interesting revelations and some surprising life changes thrown in.
Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper I would not describe this as a terrifying thriller, but compulsively readable sounds about right. A cocaine addicted lawyer of questionable morals defends a teacher accused of being responsible for the disappearance of two high school girls in a small town north of Toronto. The lawyer doesn’t care about the truth, only about getting his client acquitted as quickly as possible. The town has a crazy Lady of the Lake legend, and the lawyer has a dark episode in his own temporarily forgotten past. Strange visions and bizarre middle of the night incidents could be drug induced dreams – or they could be real. The characters are real enough. The atmosphere goes from disturbing to downright creepy. The only thing truly terrifying about the story is how ‘evil’ can appear to be so normal and how hard it can be to tell the difference.
These are all good authors, and well written books. I’m glad I read them. I can’t say that they made me any smarter or better informed or interesting, but it was worth a shot.