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Reading Tana French in Mogadishu

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The books: all the Tana French books I could get my grubby hands on

The place: Mogadishu

Further adventures in genre! A year and a half ago – pre-Arkady Renko – I probably would have said that I didn’t really read detective stories. These days, following on from my experiments in SciFi that have been going on since late 2011, I am far more likely to dip into genres I wouldn’t normally think were my thing. A number of people whose tastes I trust have raved about In The Woods, French’s first novel; I’d had it on my Kindle for a while and only got around to starting it last week. I was gripped by the end of the first chapter, promptly downloaded the rest of French’s books and have been reading my way through them since. Currently about three-quarters of the way through Broken Harbour, with only The Secret Place to go, whereupon I expect I will have no option but to turn up at French’s house and throw pebbles at her windows until she writes more books. No jury in the land, &c.

French’s writing has some of my favourite things: a good range of unreliable narrators; a firm and lovingly drawn sense of place; a wide array of delightful and fully-realised characters (Frank Mackey! <3) that wander from book to book – the plots are almost immaterial, but still compelling, even when they stretch the bounds of credulity (The Likeness, I’m looking at you). I should really space the books out as I’ll be bereft when I’ve finished them, but I never claimed to have any willpower, particularly when it comes to delayed gratification.


Here, have some Mogadishu.


Somali Youth League monument (I think)


Lots of firewood


Painted shops: pretty much my favourite thing


Written by Jess

September 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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