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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

September 19, 2023

Two New Books with an Unreliable Narrator

by Susan Roberts

An unreliable narrator is an untrustworthy storyteller, most often used in narratives with a first-person point of view. The unreliable narrator is either deliberately deceptive or unintentionally misguided, forcing the reader to question their credibility as a storyteller.

This isn't one of my favorite genres but is something that many readers find intriguing trying to figure out what is true and what is deceptive.  If you enjoy narrators that you can't trust to tell you the real truth and add extra intrigue to the suspense, these books may be perfect for you.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

The Interpreter by Brooke Robinson

book cover of psychological thriller The Interpreter by Brooke Robinson
September 2023; Harper; 978-0063299887
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); psychological thriller

Innocent or guilty. It's all a matter of interpretation...

Revelle speaks 11 languages and spends her days as an interpreter for witnesses, victims and accused in London police stations, courts, and hospitals.  Her words are normally the only words understood by the authorities and it's important for her to be very concise in her translations.   It's a very stressful job but her entire life is stressful because she is in the process of adopting a pre-school boy who has had a rough upbringing.   When she deliberately translates something wrong and allows an innocent man to go to prison, she is sure that she'll never be found out...but someone knows what she did.

The premise of the story and the suspense of who is trying to get back at Revelle is very good.  My problem is that I didn't like Revelle much.  Despite the fact that she had a job that required perfection, she always seemed a bit confused and unsure of herself both at her job and her parenting of the child she wants to adopt.  However, the suspense behind who was threatening her was intense and kept me reading the book until the end.

Buy The Interpreter at Amazon

Penance by Eliza Clark

book cover of suspense novel Penance by Eliza Clark
September 2023; Harper; 978-0063327856
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); suspense

Do you know what happened already?
Did you know her?
Did you see it on the internet?
Did you listen to a podcast?
Did the hosts make jokes?

Did you see the pictures of the body?

Did you look for them?

Alec Z. Carelli is looking for a good topic for his next true crime book.  Even though he had some early success, his last books had failed so he knows that he needs to find a big story that hasn't been overexposed.  He finds his story in a small town where a decade earlier three sixteen-year-old girls, burnt one of their schoolmates to death.  Alec is thrilled to find his story and knows that if he writes it well, he will gain fame as a writer plus make some much-needed cash.  So he moves to the small town and works to interview the families of the accused girls as well as the family of the murdered girl.  He gives us some interesting information about the history of the girls and their families but goes into way too much information about the history of the town and numerous minor characters who really have nothing to do with the story.  The book does get bogged down in some of these long explanations of things that don't matter.  He also spends a lot of time quoting podcasts on the crime that seemed unneeded.

I found it interesting the way the author wrote a book about an author writing a book.   True crime stories are very popular right now and it was the perfect genre for the book within the book.  However, early on we begin to wonder how much of the story really is TRUE crime and how much of it is made up by Carelli to make his story more intriguing and ultimately more popular with the public. Personally, I thought the book was too long but I think the author needed to include all of the unneeded details provided by the true crime author to show that he really didn't dig deep into his story but only relied on surface details.   This was an interesting story that highlighted the current interest in True Crime stories even without knowing what is true and what is made up.

Buy Penance at Amazon 

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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