Quarantine Read #4: Male leads

The thread that links all these books together in this post is male leads. All these books have a male protagonist (one of them has a female protagonist as well, following two characters) and this what I thought of them.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

I was supposed to read this as part of my Writing Crime Fiction module last semester but I didn’t get round to it with the other readings we had to do. Considering this book series created Hannibal Lecter, the ultimate intelligent psychopath, I thought I should give it a go. I did enjoy myself. We followed a retired officer reluctantly dragged back to work as the only one able to catch serial killers. He talks to Hannibal Lecter about the current case to see if he can help solve it. As well as getting insight into Lecter, we get insight into the current serial killer and his motivations. Chillingly Lecter compares our protagonist to himself, thinning the line between law enforcement and law breakers, playing up the psychological side. I did not see the very last twist coming and it was shocking that’s for sure.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This is very different type of novel. I am struggling to categorise it. Its not fully contemporary but it does deal with relationships and very human issues. It has a sci-fi or fantasy twist as our protagonist has a condition where he lives much longer than normal humans but it is very much set in reality. There is also a historical element as we go back and see what life was like for our protagonist centuries ago, coming into contact with Shakespeare. There is even a mystery element thrown in with the disappearance of our protagonist’s daughter. Overall I enjoyed the narrative and characters and the commentary that was made on society today and how we deal with people who are different.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This is definitely a historical novel set in the 18th century. We follow a merchant and a high-class sex worker. It seems like a strange combination but it does come together. A fantastical element is introduced with the inclusion of mermaids which fit with the age of discovery it is set in. I learnt a lot about 18th century prostitution which I enjoyed. Many times women are written out of history. However you feel about prostitution, it happened and it was interesting to find out about their lifestyle and mindset. This narrative does challenge the degradation of sex workers from the time that has followed through to modern times which is always good to see in historical fiction.

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