Finding new authors: Kit de Waal

Over a period of many years, I have accrued quite a list of favourite authors from a wide variety of genres. Sometimes, it can be quite a long wait before new novels appear and I am always on the look-out for new writers to add to my list. It doesn’t happen very often, but, just this week I discovered Kit de Waal and have already devoured two of her books.

de Waal has an interesting background in that she identifies as British/Irish, having been brought up by an Irish mother and an African-Caribbean bus driver father in Birmingham among the Irish community, and has recalled: “We were the only black children at the Irish Community Centre and the only ones with a white mother at the West Indian Social Club.”

The books I have read so far, My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time, are different to my usual genres. Reading the initial chapters, they seem quite cosy (usually anathema to me) but build slowly and surely to an ending which is both surprising and entirely logical. Sounds odd? Read them. You won’t be disappointed. Click the links for full synopsis and reviews.

She’s definitely on my list!

Knife, Jo Nesbo

I’ve been a fan of Jo Nesbo from the early days of The Bat, Cockroaches and The Redbreast. I loved his gritty, raw style – so different from some of the more anodyne British and American authors (with a few notable exceptions, of course). His peak, for me, came with The Snowman and The Leopard, both of which I am happy to re-read at any time. With a first reading of Knife, however, I fear we may have reached the end of the road.

Hole’s wife, Rakel, gets killed in the first few chapters and. predictably, he descends into a miasma of drink and bad decisions. It’s all getting a bit old and I’m not sure how many more books he can stagger through without succumbing to liver disease. However, he manages to stumble and stagger through an inordinate number of red herrings and suspects before finally solving the crime. A sub-plot runs alongside the main one, which Harry mucks up and ignores before ‘brilliantly ‘ tying it into the final resolution.

For reasons I cannot fathom, the afore-mentioned suspects each have an interminable backstory which goes on for pages until the original plot has been all but forgotten. There are quite a few lengthy discourses on technicalities and practicalities which scream, “Look at all the research I did”. For the first time ever, I found myself skipping pages in a Nesbo novel.

There were flashes of Nesbo’s brilliance but they were too few and too far between. The unrelenting misery of Hole’s life, along with over-writing and, quite frankly, convoluted and unrealistic plotting nearly led me to giving up. After enduring the risible ending, I wished I had.

Sadly, another favourite author bites the dust.