Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Detective on the Side

'The News Where You Are'
By: Catherine O' Flynn


Format: Paperback
Published: Holt; July 2010
Pages: 272


Synopsis: O'Flynn follows her Costa-winning debut, What Was Lost, with a strong sophomore effort set in her hometown of Birmingham, England. Frank Allcroft has a loving wife and daughter, and a comfortable life as a local TV news anchor, but years of reporting soft news has left him dissatisfied. As that dissatisfaction reaches its nadir, the demolition of buildings designed by his late father, the somewhat mysterious death of his on-screen partner and mentor, Phil, and Frank's obsession with people who die alone lead him down a path of self-discovery. Along the way, Frank comes to terms with some lingering family issues and learns what really happened to Phil, but, in the end, it is Frank's daughter, Mo, who powers the biggest change. 


My Take: I had been putting off reading this one for a while because I hadn't heard a lot of strong things about it. I wish I hadn't put off reading it because I absolutely loved it! Or maybe it's one of those cases of going into it with low expectations and then it can really blow you away. Basically, if you like subtle British humor (or should I say humour), the likes of which Mark Haddon's 'A Curious Incident of A Dog in the Night Time' also excelled at then you will probably love this one too. If you don't then, you will just think it's your average story. 


Our hero is a bumbling middle aged man named Frank who lives in Birmingham, England and is a newscaster for a local evening news show. He will never make it in the big time and for the most part he is ok with that. He has a wife and daughter who love him and he loves them but he is having a bit of a mid life crisis. It all probably starts with the death of one of his closest friends and mentors, Phil. The death is a bit mysterious and Frank becomes, maybe a little unhealthily, obsessed with solving it.


However, that isn't necessarily the main focus of the book. I think, perhaps, the main focus of the book is just Frank's average life. All of the characters that come in and out of it and finding the humor in the everyday. His daughter Mo, who I think is around age 8 is an absolute delight and is probably his greatest joy. He needs to learn to appreciate her more. His mother is in a senior living center and is a mean old lady but Frank and his family try to cheer her up. They can't seem to but it is entertaining watching them try. Frank's father has passed away and was an architect whose buildings are being torn down. Frank is trying to save them. Andrea, Frank's wife, often says that their life is very involved with Frank's past and it is important that he learns to move into the future. I think that is what the story is trying to deal with more than solving the mystery of Phil.


However, we do solve the mystery and it is an interesting ride. We meet the people Phil was dealing with up until his death. Phil was a newscaster who had made it to the big time but didn't want to grow old, however old he may have been at the time of his death. Was it an accident or not?

The book is all very subtle but I was hooked from the get go and I have O'Flynn's first book 'What Was Lost' on my shelf and I am looking forward to digging that back out now too.

(Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending me this book)

8 comments:

  1. My mother loves British humor - I'll have to get this book for her.

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  2. Oh no, I wonder if we had met when I reviewed it because I could have told you to read it :) It was so good, strange and well just well written

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  3. So glad to hear that you liked this one -- I've been eyeing it because of the premise, but wasn't sure what the feedback would be!

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  4. I really liked What Was Lost. I hope this one is as good. Glad to know you liked it.

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  5. Oh my goodness, I'm literally just finishing this one now -- and I got it from LibraryThing's ER program, too! (Reading twins?) I'm about 30 pages from the end and just loving it. Like you said, the subtle humor is great, and I love Frank, Andrea and Mo... plus all the other larger-than-life characters in this one. I haven't heard much about it, either, but maybe we'll change that. A great read!

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  6. i'm glad you loved this one so much! i always love a book with some humor in it so i'm going to have to add this one to my wishlist.

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  7. I've read a slew of glowing reviews for this one lately, and I really need to read it. I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much!

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  8. I haven't read either of Flynn's books yet but I've read positive reviews of her first and now this one of her second. I look forward to reading her first since I already have it on my shelf at home. I'm glad that the book exceeded your expectation!

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