Within the mystery genre, I’d place Nicola Griffith’s The Blue Place closer to James Ellory than to more typical whodunnits and detective stories. Similar to Ellroy’s noir thrillers, Griffith’s book is populated with unreliable narrators, deep psychological complexities, and intense, frightening violence.
Griffith uses descriptive language much more lush and lyrical than anything Ellroy writes, thatI found evocative and compelling. I also loved the way Griffith plays with her story– violence is portrayed as both shockingly out of place and terribly mundane/realistic. Aud, the protagonist, is so horribly emotionally vulnerable but physically, totally impenetrable or unbeatable.
The only downside to the book is how quickly and completely Aud falls in love with Julia. Its simply too quick and too out-of-character for someone who is portrayed as being just this side of a psychotic criminal. The “I just met you but I’m completely in love” thing is an obvious plot device and boring to read. I felt a little cheated to spend two-thirds of the novel sympathizes with a damaged and difficult character only to find myself headed towards an obvious Doomed Lovers are Doomed ending.
However, even if I finished the book slightly disappointed, the character of Aud has stayed with me since reading it. I crave knowing more about her, am semi-desperate to continue reading the series, and found myself unable to read anything else for thinking about Aud. Butch, mysterious, violent, Norwegian– I kind of love her.