The word that springs to mind with this book is pedestrian. It plods along with ponderous attempts at humour, mind-numbing detail about, well, everything really (honestly, we don’t need to know all the legal requirements when interviewing suspects), fairly dull characters and a plot that never quite comes to life. It was a debut, so I’ll work on the assumption that the author will improve with time and experience.
plot is incredibly simple: a body has been found in a locked house, and
no, it's not got one of those doors that locks itself when it shuts. So
the mystery boils down to: who had a spare key? You would think this
was a fairly straightforward matter, especially when a second body turns
up, murdered in exactly the same way, but apparently not. And not only
does the detective find the problem terribly difficult to solve, but the
author wants us to know every last iota of research into police
procedures that had to be trawled through to create this book. I hate to
break it to him, but those of us who've read more than one or two of
these books actually have a pretty good grasp of such things, or as much
of them as is relevant.
Memo to authors: if it's crucial to the
plot, by all means mention it, otherwise, don't clutter the reader's
brain with useless information. Case in point: we learn the exact layout
of the detective's flat - clockwise from the door, Jessica's room,
Caroline's room, bathroom opposite the door, then the kitchen, finally
the living room... got all that? Good. I committed that map to memory on
the assumption it would turn out to be important, and details of the
furnishings, too (brown fabric sofa, matching recliner, glass-topped
table, TV positioned between the windows... zzzzz).
Then I hit a
major problem. While interviewing the wife of the second victim, our
stalwart detective discovers that they were burgled a year before, just
like the first victim. Hold it right there - because I don't remember
any reference to a burglary at the first house. I reread the most likely
sections but found nothing. Even the glorious Kindle search function
failed to come up with anything of the type. Did I miss it? Was it just a
throwaway mention in passing? If so, it needed a bit more emphasis if
it's actually a Significant Plot Point.
At this point, I
basically lost all interest. A book that apparently wants me to clutter
up my head with a whole encyclopaedia of minor details, while
simultaneously skating past a major development so skillfully that I
didn't even notice it and can't find it later, is not the book for me. I
had a guess at who the murderer was, and fast-forwarded to the end to
find - yep, I was right. So no mega plot twist, it seems. Now, lots of
people appear to have thoroughly enjoyed this book (as in huge numbers,
it’s been a massive hit, and the author now has a publishing deal on the
back of it, so what do I know?), and maybe all that detail really was
crucial in the end, but unfortunately it never really came alive for me.
One star for a DNF.