Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Persephone Reading Week : The expendable man
In a grump with my fiance the weekend before PRW started, I decided to read The expendable man. It seemed an appropriate title, although I'm not quite sure that he noticed what I was reading. But this wonderful read fully engrossed me, and helped forget my grumpiness.
Thriller isn't quite the best description of the book actually, as although an extremely tense read it is not overdramatic in the way that many modern thrillers are. It starts off with a young American doctor, Hugh Densmore, setting off for his parents house to attend the wedding of his sister. As he drives, he spots a young girl trying to pick up a lift on a deserted stretch of highway. He hesitates about giving her a ride, but eventually decides to help her out, imagining how he'd feel about his own sister stuck in such a situation. She turns out to be somewhat feckless, a bit of a liar and with quite a dodgy past. However, once he eventually gets rid of her (and this takes two attempts after she gains another life from him the next day) he thinks that that is that. But his paranoia and hesitation turns out to be justified...
I won't say anymore because I do not want the power of this book to be spoilt, suffice to say that Dorothy Hughes has created a absorbing story centred around well-drawn characters in the almost stifling setting of Arizona. While it wasn't perhaps one of my favourite Persephone reads, I was gripped by the plot and revelled in reading a book, that being a thriller, had a different emphasis to many of the other titles on the Persephone list.
(My expendable man did the washing up and made a fuss of me later on, so I no longer consider him expendable - not until I can afford a dishwasher and someone to do the hoovering anyway!)