Creeping Jenny by Jeff Noon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book, along with the two other standalone John Nyquist books, make up some of the most unflinchingly creative and original fiction I've ever read.
I say this without guile. If you want originality, uncompromisingly strange storytelling, and mysteries that only "feel" like traditional gumshoe Noirs until they get you firmly in its grip and twist you into psychedelic pieces, then do not pass this up.
I want to warn readers that they will get more than they bargain if they pick up one of these books, but a warning isn't fair. In fact, I think everyone should be forced to read them and discover these mysteries for themselves. It's like being welcomed into a Micky Spillane novel only to be Vandermeered or China Mievilled.
The first book was deeply disturbing with a city that was split up between an only day-side and an only night-side with a very dangerous dusk side. The second book, in a different, equally strange city, characters from books had real lives and libraries were becoming morgues with murdered people in books.
In this one, Nyquist becomes deeply enmeshed in a third, much smaller bucolic town where he tries to discover where his 20-year-missing-father had gone. Each day is like a brand new mystery, where seemingly mild small-town customs heralded by a different saint for every day, and everyone living there is compelled -- sometimes mercilessly -- to perform that story's function. Taboos, rituals, oddities... the culture here is a crazy character all on its own, and Nyquist investigates his own mystery alongside some very strange murders.
My description cannot do it justice. Nor would I want to give anything away. But this book honestly freaked me out. I could not see where it was going or where I was going to be taken. But between 1000-year-old mysteries, a dark green-man myth, stories of devils, tons of local saints (very strange ones), and one of the twistiest plots I've ever read, I can honestly say that I glowed with amazement.
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