Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Singer's Gun - Emily St. John Mandel (Kindle)


It has been over two weeks since I've read The Singer's Gun. Generally, within a few days of reading a book, I become inspired
to write a review, but not this time. The book almost defies description. But the review must be written, so at this stage, I have to just dive in and go for it. Hope it works out.

Anton Waker has gone missing, much to the irritation of the police force, who suspect him of human trafficking and selling illegal social security numbers. His parents are distraught. Is he dead? Is he gallivanting throughout Europe? A seemingly straight-forward mystery is underfoot.

We flashback, and are introduced to Anton months earlier. He works for a prestigious consulting firm, is a Harvard graduate, is engaged to a famous cellist, and has a close, slightly flirtatious relationship with his lovely secretary. Mandel peels back a layer of the onion, and reveals a few more facts...Anton's illegal family business, a fiance that keeps cancelling the wedding, a vicious and money-hungry cousin, a falsified college degree. We squirm. Another layer is peeled back, and we see a secretary blackmailed to spy on Anton, a life unraveling, and a tortured man wanting and attempting to live a clean life. We read even faster.

We travel from New York, to the frozen tundra in the far reaches of Canada, to a tiny, beautiful island off the coast of Italy. There is a gun. There is one last deal to make. The tension continues to build, and we are hooked.

For those looking for an action-packed thriller, you may be disappointed. Instead, Mandel has delivered more of a restrained, literary mystery that builds slowly and subtly, that pulls the reader quickly into a noirish tale of lost souls. The characters are flawed but endearing...Anton even loves and misses his adoring, one-eyed cat, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. Inequities are present and don't resolve themselves. People die. The ending is wide open. The story is enigmatic.

I read the book in one sitting, and folks, this rarely happens. If my description above appeals to your senses, add it to your list quickly.

4.5 out of 5 stars





20 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

A literary mystery that you read in one sitting?! Wow - I've made a note of it :-)

Julie P. said...

I loved LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL and I keep meaning to pick this one up. I don't know what I'm waiting for. And after your raving review....

Trisha said...

I love the idea of the main character's life being revealed in stages. This is not my typical read but it sounds really good.

bermudaonion said...

I love literary mysteries - they make you think more than thrillers do. Your review is great, as usual.

Zibilee said...

I read and loved her first book, and have been reading great reviews of this one all over the place. I am so glad that you liked it. Now I know I need to get this book. Your endorsements carry a lot of weight with me!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm impressed you can write a review after 2 weeks! If I wait longer than 2 days, it's too late for me to remember enough!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

One sitting? Holy cow, this must be good....maybe it's time for me to do some Kindle shopping today!

Serena said...

sounds like another excellent book from this author, even though there isn't much action. I think even after two weeks this book has made an impression on you.

Kathleen said...

You definitely have my attention with this review. I just read a good mystery and wouldn't mind adding another good one to my list.

Darlene said...

Sounds intriguing Sandy. Her last book was kind of like that-building slowly and subtly. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much.

Iliana said...

Ok, that does sound interesting to me so I'll have to add this to the list. You know I like mysteries and this sounds like it has a good dose of that!

Jenners said...

You did a good job selling it!

Emily St. John Mandel said...

Thanks so much for your review! It's really wonderful to come back to my hotel room after a long day of book tour traveling and come across something like this. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and that white cat at the top of the page is unbelievably cute.

caite said...

i am all for action and thrillers...but this does sound appealing. It sounds like a very smart book...

Beth F said...

I have been wanting to read both of Emily's books. Now you have me kicking myself for not reading these sooner.

Literate Housewife said...

I need to get my hands on this book. I sure hope my library acquires it soon! Great review!

I'm having trouble writing my review for The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. It's the same type of thing.

Melissa M said...

Hmm, it's funny but when I started reading I was expecting you not to like the book since it took you a while to write the review, but I often find it hard to write reviews for books I really enjoy. That seems strange when I think about it...

Meg said...

I've heard so many great things about this book -- and the author -- that I'm definitely adding it to my wishlist! So glad you liked it!

Rob (Books Are Like Candy Corn) said...

Excellent review. I have an autographed copy of The Singer's Gun on my shelf to read. That's impressive you read the book in one sitting!

Alice Teh said...

Right. I think I'll Kindle this one as well. I can't resist it. Sandy, you made me do it. *sigh*