A creeptastically-good read.

Just finished up Mo Hayder’s book, Skin. I wrote previously that there were parts of this book that really, really freaked me out and that I would probably be better off reading it during the daytime, in a room flooded with light, the radio cranked. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m looking forward to reading other of Hayder’s Detective Jack Caffery stories. He’s a character most of us are familiar with: the morally-questionable, hard-boiled detective who wants to do the right thing but can’t always bring himself to do it. He’s a noir character in a noir England. Hayder is clearly comfortable with this character and she writes him well.

Caffery and dive sergeant Flea Marley find themselves tackling two separate – but possibly related – unnerving murder cases. Something otherworldly seems to be at play and Hayder lets the paranoia and claustrophobia seep into the book, washing over the characters and the reader. Is Caffery being followed? Will Marley keep it together? Will they be able to free themselves from the quagmire that has engrossed them?

What I liked most about this book was how well-rounded it felt. Fascinating smaller characters who populate this creepy version of England are as compelling as our protagonists. You wouldn’t necessarily want to follow them for an entire book, but you’re sure glad they’re around to make things interesting: a wimp of a brother; a streetwise prostitute; nosy neighbours; a homeless, filthy rich wise man; the pompous cop who is only interested high profile cases; the coroner who has colourful nicknames for her staff…it goes on. These characters truly serve to enhance the story, not detract from it. Hayder ably balances the more macabre aspects with humor and intensifies the dread during seemingly normal interactions.

I’m looking forward to reading other novels in the series, though I suspect I’m going to have to keep moving forward and not backward as previous cases – already solved – are alluded to throughout Skin.  If anyone has a recommendation, I’d love to hear it! And if you’d like to give Skin a taste (not literally. Don’t be gross.), you can check it out here: http://browseinside.harpercollins.ca/index.aspx?isbn13=9781554686414&cm_mmc=ref-_-pub-_-rorschachtest-_-9781554686414

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~ by foodNURD on July 9, 2010.

One Response to “A creeptastically-good read.”

  1. Not a Jack Caffery mystery but I wonder if based on your enjoyment of this book, perhaps you might enjoy The Alienist, which surprised me by being a mystery genre novel that I loved (no value judgement implied, justt my genre).

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