Day 989: Night Train

Cover for Night TrainNight Train is one of those novels that is hard to rate using numbers or stars. My husband was reading it and remarked that it was interesting but that the writing style irritated him.

I certainly found that to be true. It is a very short book, written from the point of view of Mike Hoolihan, a female detective in Chicago. It is written using a lot of slang and jargon, and my impression is that this British author has not gotten it right. For example, Hoolihan goes on for a bit at the beginning that she is “a police,” that that’s what police call themselves. Really? I’ve never heard an American cop use that term. Of course, I don’t know that I’m not wrong, but I do know that no American ever referred to something as being in a “glassine envelope.” The only place I’ve ever heard of glassine is in British fiction or television. In short, I don’t know why Amis set his novel in Chicago, but at least he should have gotten the language right.

That being said, the story itself is compelling. Mike is asked by her former commander, Colonel Tom, to find out whether his daughter Jennifer really committed suicide. Beautiful and intelligent, with a kind lover, she seemed to have everything to live for.

This novel doesn’t quite go in any of the expected directions and spends time musing on the nature of suicide, but that’s all I want to give away. I did find it a compelling book, even though I have a high degree of skepticism about the likelihood of its conclusions. I have another book by Amis to read for the Walter Scott Prize list, and now I am very curious about it.

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