A very short novel from Pulitzer-Prize winning author Chabon, this features a mystery in a small English village in the last years of World War II. It’s investigated by an old man who used to be a detective, but now more concerned with looking after his bees. If you don’t know who I’m referring to by now (and the book doesn’t name him) … well, then you might not appreciate it as much as I did, I guess. And frankly shame on you.
Anyway, as I say it’s a short book (126 pages), which means you can rattle through it quickly (an afternoon was enough for me), but it’s a good one, with some nice bits of characterisation and a good sense of pace, as well as a genuine feeling that WWII looms over the action like a shadow. In the paperback, there’s also an additional section containing an interview with the author, in which he makes a reasoned (not to say spirited) argument in favour of genre fiction. As Chabon won his Pulitzer for a book covering superheroes and the history of American comics, and this latest book is a murder mystery, I’d say he was well-placed to comment on, and argue about, this issue, but this may be because I agree with him wholeheartedly.
In terms of value for your money, this is pretty poor (£6.99 for 140 pages or so), so you might well want to see about getting a library copy, but I recommend you do so, as it’s a very good read. And I recommend mulling over Chabon’s comments about genre as well.