Recent Reads: The Locked Room, Memory Man & Gathering Prey

The Locked Room
The Locked Room - Maj Sjöwall-Per Wahlöö
The Locked Room is a twin mystery, one referring to the title, a locked room murder of a pensioner who is found dead in his own apartment with all the doors and windows locked from the inside, and the other, a flurry of unrelated bank robberies to which the Swedish police force have devoted their time and attention to with little result. Will they be solved? Are the two cases connected? Written by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Locked Room is more a cleverly packed social commentary than a police procedural, offering a glimpse of the Swedish culture, political, economical and just about everything, in the early seventies. And to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the undercurrent of dark humour all throughout the novel. I just wish the lonely protagonist (Martin Beck) had more presence.

Memory Man - David Baldacci
Memory Man

Haven't read much of David Baldacci except for his debut political thriller Absolute Power, but Memory Man seems to be an uninspiring start to a new series (if that's what Baldacci's intentions are). As a former NFL player-turned-cop, Amos Decker can remember everything in graphic detail, owing to his acquired hyperthymesic capabilities, including the heinous murder of his wife and their only daughter. But as he manages to get his life back together months later, a nobody fesses up to the crime while on the same day a devastating school mass shooting shakes up the city of Burlington.

With Decker being reluctantly drawn into the investigation, it doesn't take long for him to put two and two together and realise that the two cases are inexorably intertwined, and that to solve one, he needs to solve the other. I must admit the build-up was promising, possibly exciting even, but what an epic disappointment of an ending! The unappealing characterisation aside, the 'personal' motive angle was ludicrous and the whole serial killer hunt came across as unrealistic, monotonous and riddled with clichés. Not what I was expecting!

Gathering Prey
Gathering Prey - John Sandford
Twenty-fifth in the Prey series and still marching ahead with full steam, you got to give it to John Sandford for coming up with imaginative plots abound with bizarre murders and dangerous, deranged psychopathic killers. Gathering Prey is a little different in that everyone, both us readers, and Lucas and his posse, knows who the miscreants are right from the start. It's just a matter of catching them, racing against time and the bureaucratic hassles associated with the job.

A gang of nomadic hippies from California leave a trail of blood and slaughter, while dealing in drugs and sex bordering on BDSM as they flit from one place to another. When Lucas's adopted daughter Letty is attacked by the gang's violent leader Pilate, Lucas takes it upon himself to nail down these criminals and bring them before law. To be frank, while I did very much like the realistic portrayal of the police investigation, Pilate and his crew don't make for a compelling adversary. Still a crackling good read.