The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge: A Review
When I put The Night Ocean on my reading list, I thought that it was a mystery novel. In a way, it is but it is a very different mystery novel than any I have read before. Actually, I can't say that I've read any books very much like this one before. Marina's husband, Charlie, is a writer who stumbles across a counterfeit diary of H.P. Lovecraft. The diary describes various acts between Lovecraft and underage young men. Charlie attempts to find out who wrote the diary and ends up becoming obsessed, in the process.
I felt that this novel is more science-fiction than thriller or mystery. While there are some mystery elements in the story, a reader would enjoy this book more if they were a fan of science-fiction. There were times where I actually felt like I was standing in the middle of a comic book convention. The writing could be clunky, at times, and this led to a reading that was slower than I would have liked. The characters saved this book for me. Chris is such an interesting character and is so complex. Chris is the kind of character that I would like to hang out if he were real. He doesn't let anyone else tell him who he needs to be or how he should act. He will interact with anyone, no matter their backgrounds or interests (or even their morals). Even though he becomes obsessed with L.C. Spinks, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow, Charlie's character still remains complex. Marina's love for Charlie and her belief in him is strong. Charlie's obsessions become Marina's obsessions, too. While I can't say that I enjoyed this book, I did enjoy the characters and I do think there is an audience for this type of work. If this had been advertised more as a science-fiction mystery than a mystery/thriller, I think it would have found a better home. Science-fiction is really not my forte so I was often left confused and feeling like an outsider. This book would be better for a science-fiction reader.
Reviews of books like this one:
The Travelers by Chris Pavone
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
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