Review: Oh Marina Girl – Graham Lironi.

Intolerance will not be tolerated.

The letter page editor of a newspaper receives a note from a kidnapper, citing that he’s taken a hostage and demands the full letter be posted on the front page should they hope to spare him. This triggers the narrator’s tale, deciphering what’s really going on without police involvement, but through a narrative of calligraphy, anagrams, personal loss and writing it all out on the page.

And frankly, my head hurts. It hurts even more that since finishing the book in the last few minutes I’ve read that the author’s name is an anagram of the title. What was a quiet day, a casual decision to start reading this book to kill some time between projects, turned into the need to sit down and understand this riddle of riddles.

It’s this kind of rollercoaster, U-turning mentality that kept the pages turning in quick succession. As if one of the multitude of a-ha! moments I had lead to anything. As if. I’ve lost track of the amount of solutions I had to this story, and each time I thought I had it.

I like it because beyond being crime, it’s clever on another level: it’s text-based and looks at language and handwriting and all these other little linguistic things to take it to new territory; I know many people who would revel in the story just for this literary slant. It puts it on a level that you think you yourself can work it out – spotting an anagram before it’s unveiled (if it even is) makes you feel like you’ve got a one up on the author, but you likely don’t.

Going into the plot would really take away from it, because it’s built on puzzles that the reader revels in trying to solve. And that’s kind of the point; I can’t even remember the narrator’s name (I’m hoping this is because it was not/barely mentioned and not because I’ve been stupid), but I vividly remember the analysis of handwriting, the literary quotes that pull points together. I felt like it was a code the reader had a chance of cracking, and so the pages kept on turning.

It’s a bit of a journey, I’m not going to lie, but it’s a good’un.

9th April 2015 | Contraband

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