#FridayReads 2020-10-23 – ‘One Was A Soldier’, ‘Darkly Dreaming Dexter’ and ‘The Murders of Molly Southbourne’

This week, I’m reading the final Halloween Bingo books and my thoughts have turned to murder.

I’m making my seventh visit to Millers Kill in Upstate New York to see how Reverend Clare Fergusson and Sherrif Russ Van Alstyne deal with an alleged suicide that may hide a conspiracy. I’m finally going to read the novel that inspired ‘Dexter’, my favourite serial killer on TV, and a horror story about a woman who births a murderer every time she bleeds.

‘One Was A Soldier’ by Julia Spencer-Fleming (2011)

Julia Spencer Fleming is an American writer who has won multiple awards for her crime novel series about Clare Fergusson, a retired Army helicopter pilot turned Episcopalian priest and Russ Van Alstyne, the Police Chief for the small town of Millers Kill in Upstate New York.

I think Julia Spencer-Fleming has achieved something remarkable with these books. It’s rare to find a writer who can produce strong characters AND a strong sense of place AND a good plot AND make each book in the series better than the last. There are nine books in the series. I’ve read six of them over the past two years and now I’m going to read the seventh.

This time the story is about a Vet who appears to have committed suicide but who Clare believes was murdered. I’m expecting conflict between Clare and Russ and some hard-hitting criticism about the way the US government treats veterans. I’m also expecting to enjoy every chapter.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (2004)

Jeff Lindsay is an American playwright, screen writer, crime novelist and musician, based in Florida. He is best known for the Dexter books that the Showtime TV series was based on. In 2019 he published ‘Just Watch Me’, the first in a new series of books with a master thief, Riley Wolfe, as the hero. The second book in the series ‘Fool Me Twice’ is scheduled for publication at the end of 2020.

Like millions of others, I was fascinated by the ‘Dexter’ TV series. I know that the first series followed ‘Darkly Dreaming Dexter’ fairly closely and the subsequent seven series diverged from the books. I’m curious to know what is the same and what is different about the Dexter books, so I’ve picked up the audiobook version of ‘Darkly Dreaming Dexter’ which is narrated by Jeff Lindsay.

I’m hoping that I’ll be hooked by Lindsay’s writing and narration and can settle in to read all eight of the Dexter books.

‘The Murders Of Molly Southbourne’ by Tade Thompson (2017)

Tade Thompson was born in England to Yoruba parents and educated in Nigeria from the age of seven. He’s lived in the UK since 1998. After studying medicine and social anthropology, he made his first career as a psychologist.

He broke onto the Science Fiction scene in 2018 with ‘Rosewater’, a startlingly original piece of science fiction set in Nigeria in 2066, which takes a fresh look at the concept of alien invasion and how people in Nigeria would react to it. ‘Rosewater’ won the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award in 2019. Tade Thompson has since published the rest of the Wormwood trilogy, which has been well-received.

Tade Thompson didn’t start out with Science Fiction. His first novel ‘Making Wolf’ (2015) was a detective story about a Nigerian man living in England who goes home for a funeral, exaggerates the police job he has in England, casting himself as a homicide detective and finds himself kidnapped by rebels and made to investigate the death of a local hero.

After that, he wrote the novella I’m reading this week, ‘The Murders Of Molly Southbourne’ which, in 2017, was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, ‘established to recognize excellence in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantasy’.

Here’s the hook the novella hangs on:

‘For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.’

I’m hoping for something dark, complex and original.

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