Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: The Last Book


It’s been awhile since I’ve read a good mystery novel. I went through a James Patterson jag during my college years which completely killed the thriller/mystery genre for me as it all seemed a bit too formulaic. It was going to take something special to revive the genre for me and as luck would have it Zoran Zakovic’s The Last Book did just that.

The premise of the novel is a straight forward mystery. People at Papyrus Books are dropping dead for no apparent reason and it’s up to literature loving inspector Dejan Lukić to get to the bottom of it. Along the way Zakovic hits every trope the mystery/thriller genre has to offer. They’re all here from the femme fatale to the mysterious cult. While it is the same formula we’ve seen a million times Zakovic makes it different enough that I don’t feel like I’m reading the same book I’ve read a million times before. That and the metafictional nature of the story that underpins the narrative adds a wonderful what the hell just happened feeling at the end. This is a mystery that leaves you feeling somewhat in the dark even after the denouement.

The thing I took away from reading this book is to not allow preconceived notions to hamper your enjoyment of a variety of literature. Throughout the book there’s a large debate between the characters about what is worthy of being considered serious literature versus fluff and genre writing. Ultimately the conclusion I came to about the books message was that as readers we should judge the content of the book rather than the genre it has been placed in. I myself am guilty of this very thing when it comes to the mystery/thriller genre. I hope to amend that in the coming months as I begin to once more reenter the genre.

If you enjoy a good solid mystery novel then you’re going to like this book. If you enjoy metaphysical “what the hell” just happened stories then you’re going to love this book.

83/100

5 comments:

  1. Damn you for testing my "no book purchases for three months" pledge! I heard about this book a while back and it sounded interesting (I'm also a big fan of "The Name of the Rose," which features prominently in the book, if I'm not mistaken). Damn.

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  2. Stay Strong!

    The "Name of the Rose" is featured heavily in this book and was another component which added alot of intrigue to the story.

    I can't help but think not buying any books is like someone who's dieting. The person will be doing great with only their celery and carrot sticks for weeks, then they can't take it anymore and they crack. Binging on a healthy stream of cookies, cakes and pizza.

    In your case instead of the cakes and pizza it'll probably be some Zoran Zakovic and Ray Bradbury books.

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  3. Similar thing happened for me with Dean Koontz and horror. I went from not being able to get enough of Koontz to not wanting any horror any more (ok with the exception of Clive Barker, but he's special).

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  4. Hey Hagelrat,

    Its never fun burning out on a particular genre. I've been reading so much Epic Fantasy in the past few months I'm making sure to throw in a heaping helping from a variety of different genre's in an attempt to ward off the burn-off.

    I haven't checked out any Clive Barker yet. :( Pathetic I know but I'm sure I'll get to him sooner than later.

    If you're looking for a good book that might revive your interest in Horror Pliny swears by Bill Hussey so you might want to check him out as well.

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  5. Yes, Hussey is awesome and the wave of the future in horror I hope. I recommend starting with his first one, "Through A Glass, Darkly."

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