strange heart beating by eli goldstone

i picked Eli Goldstone’s novel after reading an intriguing review in the Guardian (my main source of the news, books included). however, this time my opinion differs from the reviewer’s.

“strange heart beating” reads easily – no stumbling over an awkward turn of the phrase, or struggling with the imagery offered by the author. it’s a polished text and yet, the substance was a bit lacking for my taste. i was left questioning what had been the point of the story.

the protagonist starts off as a fresh widower, mourning his wife. in search of closure, he travels to her home country, and just waffles there. first third of the book generously spreads all sorts of plot hooks all over the place, yet none of them lead anywhere. the wife was drowned by a swan, her death being one more weird death in the family history. i expected anything but the following recount of hapless englishman travelling to the middle of latvian nowhere, and doing nothing there.

one detail that really rubbed me the wrong way was the name of the deceased wife. she was first introduced as Leda, and then it was revealed that her birth name was Leila, and that’s my problem with it. if you give a classic arabic name to someone from latvia, please be so kind to at least hint to the reason why.