Book Review: The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta

9781443407731The Crooked Maid

by Dan Vyleta
ISBN: 9781443407731
HarperCollins, 2013

I can’t describe this book as a page-turner, but I couldn’t have stopped reading it before the end either. None of the characters are particularly likeable, but they’re not irritating either. The setting in post-war Vienna is not heartwarming, but it’s not off-putting either; a city dealing with a Nazi past is intrinsically compelling.

I picked up this book because it made the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2013 list of finalists and the Globe and Mail 100 selection.

In The Crooked Maid Vyleta recalls some of the characters from his earlier book The Quiet Twin.  (You don’t need to have read the earlier book. This book shares characters but stands alone.) The lives of these characters overlap and intersect in an intricate, but not confusing plot. Vyleta never creates any “gimmes” in his plot development. Many pages into the book I still wondered, “Where is he going with this?” The events take a long time to unfold and a subsequent short time to resolve themselves.

The appearance of the book cover suggests a bleak story, and it is somewhat bleak, as stories about war-damaged citizens dealing with lingering cruelties, suspicions and resentments must be. But it has enough literary flow, stimulating imagery and plot twists to keep readers engaged.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on December 4, 2013, in Book reviews, Books I borrowed, Fiction, HarperCollins, Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominees and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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