Review: Bar Balto by Faiza Guene

Joel, ‘The Rink’, is the owner of the local bar in town and has been found murdered, stabbed and naked in a pool of blood. He’s an opinionated, racist, lecherous busy-body, so there’s no shortage of suspects. Faiza Guene creates an intriguing, interesting murder-mystery as we hear from each suspect in their own voice and follow the story through to its conclusion to discover who really murdered ‘The Rink’.

I really enjoyed this book. More of a novella than a novel, its brevity makes it a fast read. However, it has a lot to say within a short space of time. Faiza Guene’s previous novel, Dreams from the Endz, was full of social commentary and this is the case again here. Her range in storytelling is wonderful – dark and disturbing through to laugh out loud comedy. The story is told through a series of monologues, as each character tells us what happened, in their own words. It’s very contemporary, and the style might grate with some readers as there is some swearing, youth-speak, and there is also one character who speaks in ‘text’ so throws in LOLs and other such delights. Yet each character is quite clearly drawn and has a unique voice. I actually groaned a little when I saw the text-speaking girl, Magalie, but she ended up being one of my favourite characters as she’s so ridiculous; enamoured with Paris Hilton, following a crazy set of dating rules she got from a magazine, taking herself so very seriously and yet making herself utterly laughable.

Read the rest of my review for The Bookbag.


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