Right now, Dicken's 'Great Expectations', which we watched a brilliant BBC adaptation of over Christmas and enjoyed so much I decided to dig the book out again. I haven't got very far with it yet but I must admit I'd forgotten how funny Dickens can be. Funny, but also caustic. Last night I was giggling over his description of a village school where the children paid twopence a week to watch the elderly teacher fall asleep!
It's quite a contrast to the last book I read, 'The Brutal Art' by Jesse Kellerman, which is far more modern in style and content but in its own way no less good. The book is mostly narrated by Ethan, a rich playboy art dealer who discovers some artwork by a tenant in one of his squillionaire father's properties. The artwork is original, brilliant and holds clues to a series of murders decades ago, but the artist himself has vanished and Ethan sets out to discover who he is, where he is, and whether he had anything to do with the murders.
Ethan is a lot more entertaining than you might expect, with a good line in caustic humour of his own, and his search for the truth is intriguing. The book also features interludes from the past as we follow Ethan's family from their first arrival in New York up to the present day. Some of these are beautifully written and surprisingly poignant. One or two include dialogue which is reported strangely without the use of quotation marks (something I usually hate) but in this case there's a very specific reason for that and it's actually rather clever.
The ending is possibly the weakest part of the book; part felt slightly 'bolted on', and there was one (mercifully short) 'Dear Reader' bit which stuck out like a sore thumb. But on the whole, it keeps you guessing right up to the end, with some very unexpected twists and turns. I can thoroughly recommend it.