Saturday, 30 August 2014

AR Torre: The Girl in 6E

If all you read is the blurbs and the reviews, The Girl in 6E is a fascinating notion; a locked room mystery where it’s the detective who’s locked in. What makes it a slightly queasy read is the amount of time the author puts into explaining the day to day economics of how a girl might make a living if she’s decided never to leave her room. 

This girl makes a living from sex over the internet, and I am just going to leave that there and you can make your own mind up about where your comfort zone lies in reading about just how that works, what a girl’s gotta do and who and what she’s gotta do it with. Torre previously wrote erotica, so don’t expect too many cutaways to a row of asterisks.

The publishers didn’t take any chances, and there is nothing in the publicity material that even hints at it; what you get from the jacket copy is that the Girl in 6E is a stone killer and she’s locked herself away for years, but now something has happened which means she needs to break out again.

I kind of fancied the notion of a 21st century chick in the iron mask getting all medieval on the ungodly. Which is not really what you get. Most of the book is stuck in Apartment 6E, with glimpses out into the bigger world to let us see how the rest of the plot is getting on. And then the Girl in 6E leaves the Apartment to sort things out, and it’s somehow rather flat. In one sense, I approved. There’s a steely practicality to the protagonist, and it makes sense that once she has to move out of her comfort zone, she’s just going to get on with it and do what a girl’s gotta do. But so much of the book has been about her NEEDING to stay in the apartment that it feels almost anti-climactic that she can leave it without much of a hiccup. 

There’s a good idea at the heart of the book; what if someone had such a terrifying experience that it changed the way that she thought about herself forever? Not necessarily the way she truly was, but the way she thought about herself. And of course, over time, we’re all what we think we are; we do the kinds of things which we think our kind of a person does, or we think about doing them even if we never get around to it. The Girl in 6E thinks she’s a serial killer, and she locks herself away to protect the rest of the world from that. Though you have to wonder whether someone who’d go to those lengths to avoid killing anyone is really going to do it. The book never really finds a way to tease this out.

There’s a happy ending of sorts, which these days means that there’ll a sequel or a TV series, though I can’t figure out how a sequel would work, and the problems for a TV show …. 

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