Love Story, With Murders by Harry Bingham
Publication Date: June 20, 2013
As a general rule, I don’t read mysteries. I either find them too boring and obviously foreshadowed, with the stakes far too low, or they are way too gruesome and feel too much like a serial television series. I thought I’d take a chance on this one, though, because the cover kept jumping out to me each time I was shelving books in the mystery section at the library. So I finally decided to just give it a shot. And I was pleasantly surprised.
To be clear, this is definitely a novel for adults. There was plenty of cursing, and the descriptions of murder scenes were frank and graphic. Regularly, I don’t really go for that. I can’t handle gruesome. I have trouble watching Grey’s Anatomy because of the surgery scenes (I know I’m pathetic). The gruesome parts of this novel, however, didn’t feel particularly gruesome. I mean, I was definitely disturbed when Fiona (our narrator) was describing the leg that had been found in an old lady’s deep freeze, but it wasn’t an unbearable disturbance.
Part of that is because of our narrator’s mental state. Fiona Griffiths was diagnosed with Cotard’s syndrome, a mental illness where the sufferer believes that they are dead, when she was a teenager. As an adult, while she does not believe she is dead, she still is in a generally dissociated state most of the time. The majority of the time, Fiona appears to be emotionally detached. This detachment is what made those gruesome scenes not feel so gruesome. There was no emotional delivery, it was just matter of fact.
Fiona was an extremely interesting and compelling narrator. I really enjoyed getting into the inner workings of her mind. Her quest to be true to herself, yet to reside as a full-fledged resident of “Planet Normal” was captivating. I really appreciated her struggle to work as a part of a team, all the while knowing that her best work is done individually and in a completely different manner than how her colleagues get things done.
I did feel like the book was a bit too long (kind of like this post…). I found myself getting rather impatient with the story, and wishing that Fiona would just focus one one mystery at a time. I also found the time jump from Christmas to March at the end of the novel really disconcerting. Also, while I appreciated changing my usual pace and taking a break from fantasy, I found myself constantly hoping that Fiona’s breaks from reality were some sort of magic manifesting itself (like necromancy or something), rather than psychotic breaks.