Sunday, November 8, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown: No. 53

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This novel seems to fit into a literary-mystery genre (along with "The Shadow of the Wind," "The Secret of Lost Things" and "The Book of Air and Shadows" that seems designed specifically to flatter the subset of readers who actually love books and reading. This genre usually begins or soon gets us to a bookstore, preferably a used bookstore, and then sends us off on a search for a lost manuscript or to uncover a literay mystery. This one, which I quite enjoyed, had the added dimension of a familty secret (like House of Riverton, which I read recently) that will be uncovered close to the death of one of the principal family members (a snowstorm adds the element of confinement). (The titles seem to start with "The" as well.) The hero or heroine usually enjoys reading as much as readers of such literature do, so the narrative establishes an instant empathy for the protagonist. Anyway, "Thirteenth Tale" had a very good plot, a kicker story-within-a-story reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, and it wasn't that long.

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