Night Train by Martin Amis
Weight: 6 oz
Method of Disposal: Gave to Tracy who will probably read and then donate
I was caught quite off guard with Night Train. I was under the impression that I did not particularly enjoy Martin Amis. When I pulled it off my shelves I noticed that it looked short and easy to read, which was what I was in the mood for. I was turned off by the author and by the synopsis that put it forth as a mystery novel. I still took it to bed with me. The voice of the main character in the first couple pages irritated me, and I just knew this would not be a favorite.
How many ways was I wrong? I think I have an irresponsible and potentially inaccurate view of Martin Amis, and intend to read his other novels, many of which I already own. I thought he did a great job with Night Train. It can be categorized as a detective novel, without being a pop mystery book. I see that now. I had some prejudgments. I admit it. I really enjoyed this book. I could not wait to read it and viewed other, non-reading, moments of my life with disdain.
That being said, I do think the book had so much more potential. I am not sure exactly what it was missing, but I think it was in the character and her voice. I liked Detective Mike Hoolihan, but I am not sure I was ever convinced of her existence. There is too much umph. Too many stereotypes for one person, maybe? There were necessary details that were never explained or used in any real way. It was like they belonged, but they had not found their place.
This book explores the suicide of a beautiful young woman with a seemingly perfect life. The narrator tells her own story while describing the lead up to the death of the beautiful woman (her acquaintance) Jennifer Rockwell. The book itself becomes a suicide letter from the narrator, Mike Hoolihan. The reader is given clues all along, but like in real life, misses most of them, ignores them, or does not realize the full potential of them. While we focus on Jennifer, her boyfriend, and her family we let Mike lead us through her own demise without us realizing it. We know Mike is lonely, a recovered alcoholic with a dying liver, and bitter from her time working as a Police. It is not shocking that she decides to end her life, but it is not what you thought the focus of the book was either.
I really cannot fully explain what about this book grabbed me and would not let go, but I can say that I was in it the whole time. I felt sadness, fogginess come over me at the end. I was surprised by my reaction. It was unexpected and so wonderfully welcomed. I now say goodbye to the Night Train. I bought it for 93 cents many years ago and never thought much about it. Now, I will not soon forget it, and I have some Amis to catch up on.