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Night train by Martin Amis

Night train (1997)

by Martin Amis

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
A depressing-suicidal mystery. ( )
  vwriter | Aug 10, 2016 |
Female detective Mike Hoolihan investigates the suicide of the daughter of her commanding officer. There really isn't a lot of plot here. What we see instead is an examination of humanity. The work is too gritty for my tastes. There are some aspects to the novel that those who appreciate psychological examinations of life will appreciate. ( )
  thornton37814 | May 2, 2015 |
In his ninth publication, Amis presents the reader with a tightly constructed, hyper focused, somber short novel. Night Train deftly upends the conventions of the crime procedural novel and noir itself. The shimmering darkness of reality is present, along with dialogue that is both punchy and mellifluous, but Amis refuses to tie together the strands of mystery at the end of his novel. Instead, he let's them unravel and become as chaotic as the nexus between human motivation and action.

The novel centers around a female detective, Mike Hoolihan's, inquest into the apparent suicide of her commanding officer and paternal figure's daughter Jennifer, our femme fatale who had seemingly everything to live for. Typical of the genre, we have smoke lit diners, brutal autopsies and hard tac dialogue, but Amis probes further into the depths of what motivates human behavior. Hoolihan not only investigates not just intelligible unhappiness, but the vast cosmic space where human joy and pain are ultimately rendered trivial. Night Train, at its core, is a meditation on post modernity, for which there is no solution for the problems presented.

Along with exploring mortality, the inexorable presence of death, Amis also succeeds in making trenchant observations about modern American culture. Present throughout the novel are claims that media informs and in turn creates a reality where everyone seeks some form of sterilized closure. A critique of this sociological condition, Night Train does the exact opposite, leaving the reader with gaping wounds and lingering questions. ( )
  Casey_Marie | Apr 27, 2015 |
I started out liking this book, the formatting for the dialog, the plot, etc. I was very disappointed in the end. It was too abrupt and maybe I'm not too bright, but I wasn't sure what happened. I don't need a detailed explanation of "whodunnit", but this wasn't exactly clear.. I'm not sure I will read another book by this author. ( )
  bcrowl399 | Sep 3, 2014 |
I really wonder if any cop has ever actually said "I am a police." It sounds weird. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
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to Saul and Janis
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I am a police.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375701141, Paperback)

On a beautiful night in a second-tier American city, a beautiful astrophysicist with the clichéd everything to live for shoots herself dead with a .22. Tough-talking detective Mike Hoolihan, quickly summoned to the scene, has witnessed every sort of victim: "Jumpers, stumpers, dumpers, dunkers, bleeders, floaters, poppers, bursters." But this case is different. Mike has known the young woman for years--she's the daughter, it turns out, of Mike's mentor, Colonel Tom Rockwell. And the colonel is desperate to find a perp, despite massive evidence to the contrary.

In Night Train, Martin Amis has fixed his sights on the American female--with a difference. Mike is in fact a woman--a hulking, chain-smoking, deep-voiced alcoholic who comes complete with a squalid family background and a none-too-happy foreground. She even lives in a building next to the proverbial night train and can't survive without her tape with eight different versions of the R & B "hymn to the low rent."

Did this novel begin as narrative flexing, yet another test the hypertalented author--and number-one Elmore Leonard fan--wanted to pose to himself? If so, he has passed with flying colors. True, Mike's search occasionally pushes her up against pulp pathos, but mostly the genre keeps Amis true. "Police are pretty blasé about ballistics. Remember the Kennedy assassination and 'the magic bullet'? We know that every bullet is a magic bullet. Particularly the .22 roundnose. When a bullet enters a human being, it has hysterics. As if it knows it shouldn't be there."

Mike spends her time weighing the evidence, wishing it would point to murder, and letting us in on some current police realities. Whatever television tells us, in real life (not to mention postmodern crime fiction), there's no neat solution. Even that old standard, the good cop-bad cop approach, no longer works: "It's not just that Joe Perp is on to it, having seen good cop-bad cop a million times on reruns of Hawaii Five-O. The only time bad cop was any good was in the old days, when he used to come into the interrogation room every ten minutes and smash your suspect over the head with the yellow pages." With such discourses, Amis is stretching the rubber band of his book's realism. But in the end, all his fancy footwork doesn't stop us from admiring and pitying his heroine, and hoping she won't board the ultimate night train: suicide.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Detective Mike Hoolihan has seen it all. A fifteen-year veteran of the force, she's gone from walking a beat, to robbery, to homicide. But one case--this case--has gotten under her skin. When Jennifer Rockwell, darling of the community and daughter of a respected career cop--now top brass--takes her own life, no one is prepared to believe it. Especially her father, Colonel Tom. Homicide Detective Mike Hoolihan, longtime colleague and friend of Colonel Tom, is ready to " put the case down." Suicide. Closed. Until Colonel Tom asks her to do the one thing any grieving father would ask: take a second look. Not since his celebrated novel Money has Amis turned his focus on America to such remarkable effect. Fusing brilliant wordplay with all the elements of a classic whodunit, Amis exposes a world where surfaces are suspect (no matter how perfect), where paranoia is justified (no matter how pervasive), and where power and pride are brought low by the hidden recesses of our humanity.… (more)

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