The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith
Plot and Reviews also at Amazon
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this book is to read. Normally, I'm not into the suspense/mystery genre, but Griffith builds more of a noir feeling, a la James Ellroy, than the typical whodunnit bestsellers.
The descriptive language is much more lush and lyrical than Ellroy, but I found it just as evocative and compelling as his works. I loved the main character, Aud, and how she interacts with her locations- being in Atlanta or Norway brings out different parts of her character. I also loved the way Griffith plays different sides and tones throughout-- violence is portrayed as both shockingly out of place and terribly mundane/realistic. Aud is emotionally vulnerable but physically impenetrable or unbeatable. Etc. Etc.
I think the only downside to the book is how quickly and completely Aud falls in love with Julia. Its simply too quick and too out-of-character for someone who is portrayed as being just this side of a psychotic criminal. Also, the "I just met you but I'm completely in love" thing is kind of an obvious plot device, and boring to read.
Once Aud fell in love, I totally knew the Big and Bad end was coming, even if I hadn't figured out all of the details. Its like watching a horror movie-- don't go into the basement when the creepy music is playing! Don't make me sympathize with a damaged and difficult character for two-thirds of a novel only to take the easy way out thro the Power of Luuuurve (& Subsequent Doom for Luuurvers) at the start of the final act.
Also, the sex was a bit on the fluffy side for my taste. Too much symbolism, not enough hawt sexxin. I want a lesbian relationship portrayed just as graphically, as erotically, as steamy, as the hetero-normative romance novels portray "straight" sex. Its a political thang, I can't help it.
However, even if I finished the book slightly disappointed, and also had my queer sensibilities slightly riled, the character of Aud has stayed with me since reading it. I crave knowing more about her, am semi-desperate to continue reading the series, and found myself unable to read anything else for thinking about Aud. Butch, mysterious, violent, Norwegian-- I kind of love her.