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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 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 the 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.


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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 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 the 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.

30 review for Night Train

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Martin Amis has often been accused of not being able to create credible female characters. A female detective narrates this novel and perhaps he was making fun of himself by calling her Mike. Several times I had to remind myself she was a woman and not a man so I doubt if he’s appeased any of his detractors on that score. Mike is investigating the suicide of a beautiful young woman who had it all. She also happens to be the daughter of his former boss. Usually with Amis you know you’re going to Martin Amis has often been accused of not being able to create credible female characters. A female detective narrates this novel and perhaps he was making fun of himself by calling her Mike. Several times I had to remind myself she was a woman and not a man so I doubt if he’s appeased any of his detractors on that score. Mike is investigating the suicide of a beautiful young woman who had it all. She also happens to be the daughter of his former boss. Usually with Amis you know you’re going to get a lot of laugh out loud humour and some dazzling passages. This isn’t quite the case with Night Train. It’s an odd novel, a kind of existential noir. I did enjoy it – nice and short for one thing - though I can’t say I understood the denouement. 3.5 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Amis writing an American police thriller? Well, that's what Night Train could very well have ended up being. I'm just glad that it wasn't. The thought of Amis trying to do what the likes of Ellroy and Connelly have done just didn't seem right. Despite there being a quasi-private investigation with a view to finding out whether a suicide was in fact murder, It's best to distance this from the crime fiction genre. The novel is basically a lot more about suicide, grief, failures, motivation, intell Amis writing an American police thriller? Well, that's what Night Train could very well have ended up being. I'm just glad that it wasn't. The thought of Amis trying to do what the likes of Ellroy and Connelly have done just didn't seem right. Despite there being a quasi-private investigation with a view to finding out whether a suicide was in fact murder, It's best to distance this from the crime fiction genre. The novel is basically a lot more about suicide, grief, failures, motivation, intelligible unhappiness, and the expression of horror as to what men and women are capable of, rather than cops chasing down the bad guys. Here he is at his most serious, somber, and tightly constructed, and although I found the novel overall better than what I thought it would be, it lacked the ambitious nature and memorable characters of something like London Fields to have any lasting effect on me. I prefer the British Amis to the American one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    A young woman has been found dead, and the central character, a police detective, has been put in charge of the investigation. It looks like suicide, but why ever would she have killed herself? It's interesting to see Martin Amis's picture of someone who had everything to live for. Her talented and handsome partner loved her; he says bitterly that it's kind of embarrassing to admit how much time they spent in bed together. And she was an astrophysicist, doing cutting-edge work in cosmology. Sex a A young woman has been found dead, and the central character, a police detective, has been put in charge of the investigation. It looks like suicide, but why ever would she have killed herself? It's interesting to see Martin Amis's picture of someone who had everything to live for. Her talented and handsome partner loved her; he says bitterly that it's kind of embarrassing to admit how much time they spent in bed together. And she was an astrophysicist, doing cutting-edge work in cosmology. Sex and astrophysics: what could make anyone happier? I thought of this book yesterday when the CERN physicist we'd invited to dinner told us, as he held his beautiful wife's hand, about cosmology's long-term plans. Over the last decade, we've managed to map the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which comes from the Last Scattering Surface; the moment, a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, when space became transparent. It's told us remarkable things about the Universe. But there are still huge mysteries concerning what went before. Now, I learned, there is a far more ambitious dream: if we could build a neutrino telescope, we'd be able to see back to a point two seconds after the Universe began. It's possible that we'd be able to catch neutrinos that had come straight from that time to us, without interacting with anything en route. A direct message almost from the moment of creation. So far, no one has any idea how to do this. But it doesn't seem out of the question that it will be possible one day. Okay, Martin, now I see what you meant. Nice touch.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Mike Hoolihan is a former homicide police and currently working in Asset Forfeiture when the daughter of her mentor and friend, Colonel Tom Rockwell, dies. The death is ruled a suicide but Colonel Tom is not so sure and asks Mike to look into it. In a way this story is a straight up crime suspense novel but it's also really very different from others I've read. The narrator makes little attempt to clarify her own thinking in a way that lets people outside of police to know what she means. There a Mike Hoolihan is a former homicide police and currently working in Asset Forfeiture when the daughter of her mentor and friend, Colonel Tom Rockwell, dies. The death is ruled a suicide but Colonel Tom is not so sure and asks Mike to look into it. In a way this story is a straight up crime suspense novel but it's also really very different from others I've read. The narrator makes little attempt to clarify her own thinking in a way that lets people outside of police to know what she means. There are times that her comments are opaque to me and I was a bit baffled by them. This ends up doing an excellent job of immersing you in the narrator's world but it's a world that's far outside of my own experience. I thought at first that this would diminish my ability to enjoy the book but I was very wrong there. Somehow it ended up getting me more locked in on what was going on. Somewhere around the 2/3 mark this book sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. Any attempt to pry it out of my hands would have resulted in a full blown tantrum, I'm pretty sure. Or the person attempting the prying would have had to drag me around the house with the book. By the end the book ratcheted up the suspense to an agonizing level and I actually felt enormous relief in the final paragraph. It still took a long time for my heart to stop pounding but I at least felt relief! It absolutely amazes me that the author sucked me in that much in a book that was only 175 pages. That's rarely enough for me to get really attached to a book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Hawkins

    What can I say, I love reading someone pondering suicide; using fiction as their medium. It did it for me, in every sense of the phrase. Amis' succinct, biting prose rhythmically dancing from scene to scene, every sentence with a special flavour; every page dense with heat-it was majestic, and I enjoyed every second of my journey within this, at times, not so sunny novel. A tidy little number, well worth your time. What can I say, I love reading someone pondering suicide; using fiction as their medium. It did it for me, in every sense of the phrase. Amis' succinct, biting prose rhythmically dancing from scene to scene, every sentence with a special flavour; every page dense with heat-it was majestic, and I enjoyed every second of my journey within this, at times, not so sunny novel. A tidy little number, well worth your time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shernoff

    scenic, memorable, sweetly melancholy. here's a take courtesy of Amazon: (2 stars)Not the greatest thing, May 19, 2006 A Kid's Review Well when i got this book i thought that there was going to be more action in it. But it is just a story about a girl who did suicide (i am not done with it yet). This book also has to many swears in it, no one talks like that, only teens do (that are immature). I can't wait to be done with this book. scenic, memorable, sweetly melancholy. here's a take courtesy of Amazon: (2 stars)Not the greatest thing, May 19, 2006 A Kid's Review Well when i got this book i thought that there was going to be more action in it. But it is just a story about a girl who did suicide (i am not done with it yet). This book also has to many swears in it, no one talks like that, only teens do (that are immature). I can't wait to be done with this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Misha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not a bad way to start my reading year in 2010. I found this a flawed, but in the end quite excellent, book. I wish Amis had just gone ahead and set it in the U.K., as I can see no reason for it being set in America other than the use of a handgun. It unfortunately read like something written by a British author, not quite American enough to truly take place here. For example, the opening paragraph in which the main character insists that cops would refer to themselves as "a police" is just wrong Not a bad way to start my reading year in 2010. I found this a flawed, but in the end quite excellent, book. I wish Amis had just gone ahead and set it in the U.K., as I can see no reason for it being set in America other than the use of a handgun. It unfortunately read like something written by a British author, not quite American enough to truly take place here. For example, the opening paragraph in which the main character insists that cops would refer to themselves as "a police" is just wrong, and every time Amis used that construction, I wanted to scream at him. No American cop would ever refer to him or herself as "a police" or "the murder police." They're "cops" and "Homicide." I say this as a reporter who's spent a fair amount of time talking to cops -- daily for about two years at one point in my career. It's one of those things that was annoying enough to pull me out of the book whenever I came across it. The book took a little time to get going. I think once Amis got past the police procedural elements and really started exploring the characters is when it took off. The book really is a character study of two women -- the narrator, Detective Mike Hoolihan, and the suicide victim, Jennifer Rockwell. It's a study in contrasts in some ways. Jennifer gets all the breaks while Mike takes all the beatings, and yet it's Mike who's ultimately better equipped to survive in a pretty senseless world. I also think it's a meditation on the senselessness of death, whether it's an unexplainable suicide or a baby being murdered over a diaper. None of it makes sense. Mike knows this, even though it's her job to try to impose order on the chaos of it all. But we humans, we look for patterns and meaning, often seeing those where they don't exist. As a reader, I kept expecting a neatly wrapped explanation for Jennifer's suicide. She was an astrophysicist - maybe she learned there was an asteroid hurtling toward the Earth that would wipe us all out anyway? I can't recall what other theories I entertained, but I thought there'd be one. In this sense, Amis turns noir fiction on its head. There is no solution to the puzzle, there is no sense, because that's how life is. That's how death is. It doesn't make sense, no matter how hard we try. (My corollary: And so isn't life really about the connections we make while we're here?) One more note -- I really loved the recurring imagery of the night train. It really added to the noir feel, as well as serving as a metaphor for death. The night train comes for us all sooner or later. (It's also really making me want to listen to Johnny Cash, for some reason. Alas, I have none in my CD collection. I feel a trip to Best Buy in my immediate future.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    44-year-old female detective and recovering alcoholic, "Mike" Hoolihan, takes on the job of investigating the apparent suicide of Jennifer Rockwell, the only daughter of police brass, Colonel Tom. Tom is a powerful father figure for Mike: he saved her life by getting her off the booze. Now he wants her to explain what happened to his daughter. Jennifer had everything anybody wants: beauty, wit, health and a stimulating career. So the discovery in her orderly apartment of her naked body with thre 44-year-old female detective and recovering alcoholic, "Mike" Hoolihan, takes on the job of investigating the apparent suicide of Jennifer Rockwell, the only daughter of police brass, Colonel Tom. Tom is a powerful father figure for Mike: he saved her life by getting her off the booze. Now he wants her to explain what happened to his daughter. Jennifer had everything anybody wants: beauty, wit, health and a stimulating career. So the discovery in her orderly apartment of her naked body with three shots to the head strikes Hoolihan not just as a shock, but as an endlessly troubling mystery. As she attempts to solve it, Amis takes us down the well-worn paths of the traditional detective story: the crime scene, the autopsy, the interviews with Jennifer's doctor, lover and colleagues, mostly set in offices, bars and smoky police cells. The resolution is original while still remaining reasonably faithful to classic crime conventions. As Borges once observed, the American detective story is generally a disappointment precisely because its solutions don't satisfy the curiosity the plot has stirred. But Amis, to my mind, nails it. The ending is incredibly bleak and quite unexpected, though some readers will undoubtedly find it ambiguous... So much of the criticism of this startling little novel misses the mark by holding it to a standard it doesn't attempt to meet. The one thing we can be sure Amis is not doing here is attempting a conventional noirish crime novel. Rather, he borrows the conventions of one genre and uses them for something else: in this case, he takes the "detective story" as the narrative architecture for an existential drama, much like Paul Auster did in "The New York Trilogy". As "a police", Mike needs to be interested in the what and the how, and less in the why. But as Amis shows, the why is everything. The why is our central dilemma. I read "Night Train" in one sitting and enjoyed it immensely. I suspect the hatred it inspires has more to do with the average crime buff's disappointed expectations and/or the corrosive and now-automatic distaste many critics have for Martin Amis, and less to do with the book itself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    3/27/2011: Martin Amis has been on my to-read list for a while, but when I picked up a used paperback of Night Train, an older work, I for some reason had low expectations. Maybe it just seemed like such a slight volume—a light, easy entry into his body of work. But wow, it is an extraordinarily powerful novel, not what I expected. Yes, it is a quick read, both short and engaging. But there is so much packed into it that not only did I have to reread the final 20 pages immediately upon finishing 3/27/2011: Martin Amis has been on my to-read list for a while, but when I picked up a used paperback of Night Train, an older work, I for some reason had low expectations. Maybe it just seemed like such a slight volume—a light, easy entry into his body of work. But wow, it is an extraordinarily powerful novel, not what I expected. Yes, it is a quick read, both short and engaging. But there is so much packed into it that not only did I have to reread the final 20 pages immediately upon finishing the book, I also had to go read all I could find about it on the internet, trying to understand what exactly happened. And I will definitely need to read it through again. Ostensibly Night Train is a straight up crime novel, narrated by a female "police" named Mike Hoolihan, who is given the task of investigating the suicide of a young woman named Jennifer Rockwell. Jennifer’s father is Mike’s boss, and neither Colonel Tom Rockwell nor Mike can truly believe that Jennifer, given her seemingly perfect life, would kill herself. So plot-wise, the novel follows Mike’s findings faithfully. But that’s just the surface layer, and underneath is so much more. Night Train is a meditation on identity, on suicide, on expectations; it’s about appearance vs. reality, it’s about the cosmos and humans’ place in it; it’s about love and family and secrets and lies. It’s about the impossibility of knowing anything for certain—truth, fact, answers, all are relative and unknowable. Lots more of Amis’ work to read, and now I’m excited about it. I’d better get to work

  10. 4 out of 5

    Banbury

    NIGHT TRAIN DOES NOT LEAVE THE STATION Night Train does not work on any level. Despite having read and watched American police genres, American is clearly a foreign language to Amis—he could have used a translator. Just a glaring example, Mike visits the doctor at his “surgery.” An American would of course say “office,” as the term “surgery” means an operation that involves a scalpel. And I simply do not believe the silly construction of “I am a police” that is repeated for seemingly no reason. Th NIGHT TRAIN DOES NOT LEAVE THE STATION Night Train does not work on any level. Despite having read and watched American police genres, American is clearly a foreign language to Amis—he could have used a translator. Just a glaring example, Mike visits the doctor at his “surgery.” An American would of course say “office,” as the term “surgery” means an operation that involves a scalpel. And I simply do not believe the silly construction of “I am a police” that is repeated for seemingly no reason. The narrator (and main character) is an unattractive and unbelievable caricature. A girl named Mike. Walks like a boy, talks like a boy, but wants to be a girl. Sort of like having two tits on a bull. The worst part of the book is that it is not a novel or story at all, but rather a Bunyonesque parable. Jennifer Rockford is not merely an excellent human specimen, but a perfect human being. Mike would be a stereotypical “Law & Order” tough cop with an interesting (if predictable) psychological background, except for Amis’s awkward overlay of a British sensibility on an ostensibly American character. In fact every character is merely a type or a two-dimensional symbol. Amis seems to have a message better suited to an essay—perhaps; or maybe he does not have enough material for an essay. The point merely being that we are headed for nothingness. It may be a profound truth, but has no more substance to it than the nothingness itself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sebastien Castell

    It's hard not to be blown away by Martin Amis' writing. His prose in Night Train takes the sharp economy of noir stylists and pushes it as far as it will go until, if you read a passage aloud, you discover that it's also poetry. I don't say this to be flowery or even necessarily complimentary--rather, to emphasize that the writing here has a constant, unrelenting intentionality about it that both amazes and, at times, troubles the reader. In taking the style and form of the crime novel to such e It's hard not to be blown away by Martin Amis' writing. His prose in Night Train takes the sharp economy of noir stylists and pushes it as far as it will go until, if you read a passage aloud, you discover that it's also poetry. I don't say this to be flowery or even necessarily complimentary--rather, to emphasize that the writing here has a constant, unrelenting intentionality about it that both amazes and, at times, troubles the reader. In taking the style and form of the crime novel to such extremes, Amis doesn't so much deliver a satisfying tale as a kind of brute-force polemic on the power of noir as a sub-genre to make us feel so unsettled and yet compelled at the same time; why noir feels both unrealistic and yet revelatory all at once. If my review sounds a bit over-the-top, then it matches the novel. Amis delivers all the edge of a crime story but none of the gentler concessions of modern mysteries. There's never a sense that, underneath the confusion and meanness, a better, nobler world is just waiting for the detective to solve the crime and bring the guilty to justice. Night Train is brilliantly written but will never make you comfortable. Right up until the very end, Amis aims to trouble rather than reassure. It's a short book, well worth the time just to see the boundary lines of what noir writing can be in the hands of a literary author who doesn't give a damn about your happy endings.

  12. 5 out of 5

    R.

    Black Hole Songs, Won't You Come and Sing Away the Pain, or The Dental Records of the American Psyche Amis apes the prime time grime and crime of laughing gas giddy Detroit daddy Elmore Leonard; roots around the gum and fangs of the American mouth, with the cosmic compression, the icy diamond tipped dentist's drill, of latter day Saul Bellow. Black Hole Songs, Won't You Come and Sing Away the Pain, or The Dental Records of the American Psyche Amis apes the prime time grime and crime of laughing gas giddy Detroit daddy Elmore Leonard; roots around the gum and fangs of the American mouth, with the cosmic compression, the icy diamond tipped dentist's drill, of latter day Saul Bellow.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    Female New York cop Mike Hoolihan is the protagonist of Amis's venture into crime, a 44 year old ex-alcoholic, (''I used to be something, I guess, but now I'm just another big blond old broad"), and it is her character that makes the short novel stand out as a piece of crime fiction. She is assigned to investigate the suicide of a police chief's daughter. It is hard-boiled noir with punchy dialogue and it builds towards a much anticipated climax. It is a sudden and satisfying resolution, and even Female New York cop Mike Hoolihan is the protagonist of Amis's venture into crime, a 44 year old ex-alcoholic, (''I used to be something, I guess, but now I'm just another big blond old broad"), and it is her character that makes the short novel stand out as a piece of crime fiction. She is assigned to investigate the suicide of a police chief's daughter. It is hard-boiled noir with punchy dialogue and it builds towards a much anticipated climax. It is a sudden and satisfying resolution, and even though Mike is narrating to us, she keeps us in the dark for as long as possible, on tenterhooks, as if she wants to show us what she means, not tell us.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Baba

    My first Martin Amis read blows me away… a perfectly crafted noir novel about a female detective called Mike investigating the suicide of a woman who appeared to have everything. Exquisitely written. 8 out of 12. My first Martin Amis read blows me away… a perfectly crafted noir novel about a female detective called Mike investigating the suicide of a woman who appeared to have everything. Exquisitely written. 8 out of 12.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I finally finished a Martin Amis book - though it's hardly typical of his work, so perhaps it doesn't really count. In Night Train, he adopts the voice of a tough American female cop, Mike Hoolihan, who's investigating her friend's supposed suicide. It's a pastiche of a particular sort of police procedural, edging into erotic thriller territory - it reminded me a lot of In the Cut by Susanna Moore, published in the same late-90s period. Riddled with deliberate cliches interspersed by passage I finally finished a Martin Amis book - though it's hardly typical of his work, so perhaps it doesn't really count. In Night Train, he adopts the voice of a tough American female cop, Mike Hoolihan, who's investigating her friend's supposed suicide. It's a pastiche of a particular sort of police procedural, edging into erotic thriller territory - it reminded me a lot of In the Cut by Susanna Moore, published in the same late-90s period. Riddled with deliberate cliches interspersed by passages of clever wordplay, it's an effective and really quite easy read, but there's something haunting about it, too.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I should start by saying this was mandatory reading for a class I'm taking. Otherwise this book would most likely never have crossed my path. And if it did, I wouldn't have read it. I really liked the opening paragraphs and read it a few times to savor it. The voice of the protagonist felt unique but overall I wasn't a fan of the language/writing style and I couldn't quite grasp what the conclusion was. I should start by saying this was mandatory reading for a class I'm taking. Otherwise this book would most likely never have crossed my path. And if it did, I wouldn't have read it. I really liked the opening paragraphs and read it a few times to savor it. The voice of the protagonist felt unique but overall I wasn't a fan of the language/writing style and I couldn't quite grasp what the conclusion was.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    Martin Amis is one of the greatest writers of our times, but he also knows how to make a page-turner This was my first foray into Amis's fiction, after I read his Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million. After Night Train I understand why he is known for his fiction. What are its attributes? Authoritative from the perspective of his policewoman protagonist Martin Amis may be a scholar, but he can sure get into a police's way of thinking. He gets their lingo, their ups and downs - just everyth Martin Amis is one of the greatest writers of our times, but he also knows how to make a page-turner This was my first foray into Amis's fiction, after I read his Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million. After Night Train I understand why he is known for his fiction. What are its attributes? Authoritative from the perspective of his policewoman protagonist Martin Amis may be a scholar, but he can sure get into a police's way of thinking. He gets their lingo, their ups and downs - just everything. He brings the authority from a detective's perspective - and it makes it even better. He bends the rules constantly - but in a way that is not forced Amis changes the way dialogue is supposed to go, and from formatting to change in tone - he changes the way words are supposed to be. But each time it is justified - and serves the tale well. Above all else - he makes you turn the page With Amis you want to hang on every word - but you also want to find out what's next. This is not a tale you are supposed to love - you actually love it. In any case - I recommend it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    I’m not familiar with Martin Amis themes and style so I’m rather cautious in my assessment. I would call the novel kind of satire or pastiche of detective/mystery novel. Amis freely borrows from noir crime authors here only to wrap up Night Train in costume of detective story but actually is more interested in existential dilemmas. He toys with convention of the genre and procedural issues to take a look on human condition. Everything seems to be clichéd here: a female detective named Mike, a I’m not familiar with Martin Amis themes and style so I’m rather cautious in my assessment. I would call the novel kind of satire or pastiche of detective/mystery novel. Amis freely borrows from noir crime authors here only to wrap up Night Train in costume of detective story but actually is more interested in existential dilemmas. He toys with convention of the genre and procedural issues to take a look on human condition. Everything seems to be clichéd here: a female detective named Mike, a badass and recovering alcoholic, molested in childhood by her father and victim of abusive partners. And on the other side- wise and beautiful Jennifer, loved by everybody, with supporting parents and caring partner. In one word with everything that Mike was deprived of. And yet she killed herself. Or was she murdered? Night Train is then deliberation of nature of suicide, it’s always a failure if our child or friend or relative committed suicide, we’re struggling with sense of guilt and anger, we need to understand all the whys. I’m not sure if I even understood the message the novel delivers, if there’s any message here at all. To say that we don’t know or know very little fellow human being, even the one we’re intimate with, it’s rather understatement.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Amis tries to write about America in this mercifully short police procedural and fails. He seems to be trying to channel Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Elmore Leonard. I'll give him credit for two funny snippets. Detective Mike Hoolihan lives with her enormous boyfriend Tobe. Tobe's "strategy, I suspect, is to stick around and grow on me. And it's working. But so slowly that I don't think I'll live long enough to see if it all panned out." And, at the funeral of suicide victim Jennifer Rockwell Amis tries to write about America in this mercifully short police procedural and fails. He seems to be trying to channel Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Elmore Leonard. I'll give him credit for two funny snippets. Detective Mike Hoolihan lives with her enormous boyfriend Tobe. Tobe's "strategy, I suspect, is to stick around and grow on me. And it's working. But so slowly that I don't think I'll live long enough to see if it all panned out." And, at the funeral of suicide victim Jennifer Rockwell, whom Hoolihan knew well, Jennifer's mother approaches her. (Hoolihan is large and mannish). She said, "Mike, I think this is the first time I've seen your legs." I said, "Well enjoy."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A black humor takeoff of detective stories, Night Train ends up as a fairly deep look at how the act of suicide, even at its most tawdry, disturbs the universe. The questions surrounding the act are always unanswerable for the mc, even though it’s literally her job to investigate. No answers from Amis, thankfully.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A hollow, false, ineptly wrought policier. Though supposedly written in an American's voice, it begins "I am a police." Which to my ear sounds like Amis, not like any American cop I know. A disappointing book from start to finish. A hollow, false, ineptly wrought policier. Though supposedly written in an American's voice, it begins "I am a police." Which to my ear sounds like Amis, not like any American cop I know. A disappointing book from start to finish.

  22. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Amis tries a badass American she-cop voice in this thinking man’s police procedural. The voice is acceptable once the story shuffles on apace, spiky and mellifluous in all the right places, more pastiche than proper policewoman. The story is partly snappy thriller, part hmm-ing on suicide. There isn’t much room to let things like character or intrigue grow, and the last third collapses under too much stylised posturing. What, you say, stylised posturing? In a Martin Amis novel? Why, never! I lik Amis tries a badass American she-cop voice in this thinking man’s police procedural. The voice is acceptable once the story shuffles on apace, spiky and mellifluous in all the right places, more pastiche than proper policewoman. The story is partly snappy thriller, part hmm-ing on suicide. There isn’t much room to let things like character or intrigue grow, and the last third collapses under too much stylised posturing. What, you say, stylised posturing? In a Martin Amis novel? Why, never! I liked it. It’s cute, and not half as stiff as House of Meetings.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gizem

    Why did I give Amis another chance? This is my second attempt to grasp his mindset and I feel empty, if that's even possible. Never knew a book could get me frustrated this much. I don't even feel like reviewing this so I'll just stop here, period. Why did I give Amis another chance? This is my second attempt to grasp his mindset and I feel empty, if that's even possible. Never knew a book could get me frustrated this much. I don't even feel like reviewing this so I'll just stop here, period.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ira

    Sometimes you read a book and you are convinced that the author just had an idea while taking a shower and needed to fulfill an obligation to his or her publisher. Amis apparantly decided, what the heck, he'd do a police procedural/Dashell Hammett style novella with a single, minor theme that life is pointless. Thus, you are left with an implausible scenario of a beautiful, happy, brilliant, loved, young, healthy woman inexplicably killing herself, by even more implausibly shooting herself in th Sometimes you read a book and you are convinced that the author just had an idea while taking a shower and needed to fulfill an obligation to his or her publisher. Amis apparantly decided, what the heck, he'd do a police procedural/Dashell Hammett style novella with a single, minor theme that life is pointless. Thus, you are left with an implausible scenario of a beautiful, happy, brilliant, loved, young, healthy woman inexplicably killing herself, by even more implausibly shooting herself in the head three times while sitting on a chair naked Not only that, we are supposed to believe that the detective assigned to investigate the suicide will have personally known the victim, her dad and pretty much everyone else involved in the story despite it allegedly taking place in a relatively large American city. Despite the throw away nature and depressing concept and theme, Amis is a talented enough writer that it makes for an easy read (took me about two hours to knock off the whole book) sort of in the same way of those classic first person narrated detective stories.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tom Gorman

    If you’re thinking about reading Night Train, I would advise you not to bother. Read (or reread) Money or The Information, or any of Amis’s nonfiction, or maybe something by Ian McEwan instead. There isn’t enough here, not enough of anything. At 175 pages, it’s over before it starts. It gestures toward grand philosophical imponderables without really allowing them to impart any gravity or profundity. The police-procedural dimension, too, is entirely sketchy and insufficient. And our protag, Mike If you’re thinking about reading Night Train, I would advise you not to bother. Read (or reread) Money or The Information, or any of Amis’s nonfiction, or maybe something by Ian McEwan instead. There isn’t enough here, not enough of anything. At 175 pages, it’s over before it starts. It gestures toward grand philosophical imponderables without really allowing them to impart any gravity or profundity. The police-procedural dimension, too, is entirely sketchy and insufficient. And our protag, Mike Hoolihan, is a blur: a woman with a man’s name and a masculine manner, an American with peculiarly non-native habits of speech, a figure with some history--a past of trial and trauma--and profile, none of which condenses into even a broadly drawn human specimen. Clearly, Amis intends for our perspective of Mike to be conditioned by this vagueness. But nothing really qualifies her function as, well, a function, an integer. You should not regret not reading Night Train.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam Reaves

    When "serious" writers go slumming in genre fiction, you know in advance that they're going to fail to deliver the payoff we expect, because that would make them no better than a mere genre writer. So it's no surprise that this tale of a recovering alcoholic detective investigating the apparent suicide of her boss the top cop's beautiful daughter (and there's even more baggage than that) winds up with the reader going "Huh?" Whatever. It is, I think, a rumination on life, death, the universe, de When "serious" writers go slumming in genre fiction, you know in advance that they're going to fail to deliver the payoff we expect, because that would make them no better than a mere genre writer. So it's no surprise that this tale of a recovering alcoholic detective investigating the apparent suicide of her boss the top cop's beautiful daughter (and there's even more baggage than that) winds up with the reader going "Huh?" Whatever. It is, I think, a rumination on life, death, the universe, despair, love, death, the beastliness of it all. It's just not much of a mystery.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I did not care for this book at all. The writing style was so awkward and choppy that it took away from the story. There were too many tangents, or thoughts spun off the narrative, that the whole thing read like noise to me. It also annoyed me that the protagonist was a woman named Mike--I mean, why? And other characters named Trader, and Hi, and Bex, and Arn Debs, it was all just annoying. If you're still reading, and are interested, the story is about Mike, a cop, sleuthing her way through the I did not care for this book at all. The writing style was so awkward and choppy that it took away from the story. There were too many tangents, or thoughts spun off the narrative, that the whole thing read like noise to me. It also annoyed me that the protagonist was a woman named Mike--I mean, why? And other characters named Trader, and Hi, and Bex, and Arn Debs, it was all just annoying. If you're still reading, and are interested, the story is about Mike, a cop, sleuthing her way through the apparent suicide of a colleague/friend's daughter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arghya

    bleak, laconic, blunt, clever and unnerving at times. recommended (but not when you are in a good mood and want to stay like that).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Hmmm...I'm not sure what to make of Amis (having only read "Times Arrow" previously). This is his take on American hard-boiled crime fiction, with an American police 'heroine' with a very post-modern outlook. It's a clever book - some of the phrases and terminology make you work hard to enjoy them and satisfy when you do - but also it's a too clever book, too self-aware of itself, and ultimately just a bit smug for my liking. The plot concerns the apparant suicide of the police chief's daughter Hmmm...I'm not sure what to make of Amis (having only read "Times Arrow" previously). This is his take on American hard-boiled crime fiction, with an American police 'heroine' with a very post-modern outlook. It's a clever book - some of the phrases and terminology make you work hard to enjoy them and satisfy when you do - but also it's a too clever book, too self-aware of itself, and ultimately just a bit smug for my liking. The plot concerns the apparant suicide of the police chief's daughter who apparently was perfect and had everything to live for. The protagonist female, saddled with a male name, Detective Mike Hoolihan ultimately discovers the truth - but it's a smudged truth: one which I certainly wasn't sure of or knew if I wanted to believe in. Basically, if you're going to write pastiche then do it with heart and that includes a smart ending. This ending was too smart, too clever, too deliberate, and knew it. Which is the final straw. Still, there's bags of stuff to enjoy here and I would read more by him. But I did want more, here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Though I have come to appreciate the succinct style Amis uses (similar to authors like George Saunders) it seems he spends more time developing it than in giving the reader an interesting story. I recognize of course that plot is often not what a book is all about, but with Night Train it felt like a plot was waiting in the wings looking for the right moment to emerge, but it simply never happened. The characters were, if not stereotypical, then at least "expectable" with the exception of the pr Though I have come to appreciate the succinct style Amis uses (similar to authors like George Saunders) it seems he spends more time developing it than in giving the reader an interesting story. I recognize of course that plot is often not what a book is all about, but with Night Train it felt like a plot was waiting in the wings looking for the right moment to emerge, but it simply never happened. The characters were, if not stereotypical, then at least "expectable" with the exception of the protagonist Mike who I felt was a bit contrived. At no point did I feel like I was reading about a woman with a man's name but rather a man who had arbitrarily been named a woman. All of her manners, actions, decisions etc, felt no different than a hundred other male cops that we've all read about in a hundred other cop novels. As a character, Mike felt like a gimmick, a trick Amis used to try and be "original."

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