Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simisola by Ruth Rendell

Have been out of the crime fiction loop for a while. Read a couple of Ruth Rendells ages ago and wasn't particularly impressed. Agatha Christie simply fails to hold my attention now. Sigh. The perils of growing up include becoming utterly disgusted with once-beloved authors. Simisola was a pleasant surprise. Maybe it surprised me because I didn't expect much from it. It is crime fiction that is also social commentary. Any fiction that is also social commentary will have all my attention. My PC radar will go on high alert and scan the text continuously for any political incorrectness. The minute political opinions opposed to mine are expressed, my BP will start going up and I will begin planning the scathing remarks I shall make in my blog entry about the book. The side of me that likes to lose itself in narrative has to struggle to stay above radar scanning range. Simisola didn't pose any challenges here. The author does not descend too much into stereotype at any point. The lovely, heartstopping way in which she reveals the character named Simisola, the beautiful pace of the book that doesn't sag till the end, the way characters evolve and try to exorcise the racism within them is all a treat. The story of how Britain is becoming multicultural is told naturally through the investigation of a sensitive case of a missing black girl. Some nice background reading about how this book is Rendell's first attempt to make her characters 'political' here. No wonder I stayed up till  5 a.m. to finish reading it. Though I had to wake up at eight and run to office afterwards. Ah well.

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