When Jerry Delfont, a travel writer with writer's block, receives a letter from an American philanthropist, Mrs Merrill Unger, with news of a scandal involving an Indian friend of her son's, he is sufficiently intrigued to pursue the story. Jerry is swiftly captivated by the beautiful, mysterious Mrs Unger, but the circumstances surrounding the scandal cause him to doubt the exact nature of her philanthropy.
©2009 Paul Theroux (P)2010 Recorded Books LLC
Beware! This is not really a crime novel. True, a young boy is found murdered in a seedy Calcutta hotel, but the novel is really about the relationship that develops between Jerry Delfont, a hack writer suffering from writer's block, and the mysterious Mrs Unger the woman who hires him to solve the crime, and, needless to say, is not all that she seems.
Paul Theroux is a great writer, both of fiction and travel literature, but this isn't one of his best books.
I was really disappointed with this book. I struggled through the first chapters waiting for something more interesting to happen....but it never did!!
Faster pace, fewer repetitions of the same concepts, something actually happening rather than the main character getting an ayurvedic massage and feeling frustrated. (He is not the only one here who does, by the way).
This book does not belong to a genre: it's not a thriller, it's not an action book, it's not a travel story or a psychological novel. It's a bad mix of all of them, a hybrid that brings no appeal to the reader.
It was the less disturbing element in the audiobook.
The detailed description of the massages: they might have been relaxing for the book protagonist but for me, as a reader, they were just frustrating.
The author has an annoying habit of explaining in lengthy details every feeling, every frustration, every desire, every need of the protagonist, a journalist who is suffering from a writer's block. I don't know whether by the end of the book he gets over it, I didn't make it that far. I got what I guess I could call a reader's block caused by boredom and gave up. First and last book I'll ever read by Paul Theroux.
I haven't read Theroux for a number of years but he has lost none of his touch. Always provacative and interesting and he descibes such marvellous lanscapes and situations too.
What makes the book especially enjoybale however is the fantastic narration by Neil Shah. His subtle yet effective changes of character make it like listening to a dramatisation with a cast of characters. Brilliant.
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