A new year often leads us to reflect on what is to come. And time, as the Steve Miller Band so perceptively noted, “keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future.”
And there’s so much to be done, so quickly… especially in crime or suspense novels, where beating time will keep innocents alive. As with Tick Tock, by James Patterson with Michael Ledwidge, which features Irish-American police Detective Michael Bennett matching wits with a man who is copying the most obscene of modern murderers. It’s the return of Son of Sam, the Werewolf of Wisteria and the Mad Bomber, horrifying New York City residents who had believed them all to be long disappeared.
In between tracking a killer who is obsessed with impressing him, Bennett cares for his 10 adopted children, while recovering from the death of his wife. And two very different women attract his eye.
Tick Tock (2011, six CDs lasting seven hours) can be found in the Audio Books section, and is read by two voice actors, Bobby Cannavale and Scott Souters. One is Det. Bennett; one is the killer. (James Patterson is an industry unto himself; if you enjoy his work, the Lennoxville Library’s adult fiction shelves feature a huge selection; he’s also in Young Adult Fiction.)
Tick Tock is very detail-oriented; be prepared for all sorts of description along the way to a suspenseful resolution.
While the exact plot of a murderous novel is hard to predict, the bad guy is likely to lose at the end.
There are those who prefer their predictions to be both more obscure and yet, they hope, somehow connected to the real. Or not. Consider The Complete Prophecies Of Nostradamus (translated, edited and interpreted by Henry C. Roberts; first published in 1947 and revised in this 1994 edition, filed at 133.3 on the shelves). As (the now late) Roberts wrote, “The strange, broken, and often incoherent nature of the quatrains, both in French and English, is the hallmark of prophetic media.”
Roberts was an occult shop owner who believed himself to be the reincarnation of the now infamous Nostradamus, and credited his forebear with having extra sensory perceptions. (The 16th century French physician nonetheless lost his wife and children to plague…)
The Complete Prophecies is a fun read for linguists and academics who are lovers of Old French (the originals are included with the translations), as well as fans of word games who are entertained by difficult sentences and might like to match wits with the imagination of the interpreters.
Consider this translation, from Century VIII: “Fire from heaven suggests extraterrestrial spacecraft landing amid a great war on earth.” (The “centuries” here are not actual time references, but refer rather to collections of 100 verses.)
Here and now, Canadian literary great Margaret Atwood offers her own works of speculative fiction, including the dark trilogy which begins with Oryx And Crake (2003, in adult fiction). The tale is narrated by Snowman, who appears to be the only human left in a future overrun by genetic mutations and chimeras. He is slowly starving to death.
Atwood is not always a subtle writer (though she is a thoughtful and interesting one), and she takes direct aim here at the corporations (and scientists) who play with DNA and release their experiments into the world, while they hide in gated communities.
Oryx And Crake is the story of the apocalypse, told in flashbacks by a survivor. Book two in the series is The Year Of The Flood (2009), and the recently published MaddAddam (2013) brings the future to an end.
But here’s a future you can bank on, with a real timeline: the annual CBC Canada Reads program is on the way. And Atwood’s The Year Of The Flood is on this year’s list! It is joined by The Orenda by Joseph Boyden; Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan; Cockroach by Rawi Hage; and Annabel by Kathleen Winter. The debates will air March 3 to 6 on CBC Radio, and will be streamed online on CBC Books.
Now that’s something to look forward to.
– Eleanor Brown, January 17, 2014