Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I don't usually do negativity - sure there's the fear of alienating other writers, but more importantly, unless I'm going to take the trouble to write up a careful critique, I don't like to say something was bad. It seems a bit like throwing a stone and running away. What follows is not an entire review...

I read a novel recently by an author I’ve wanted to read for a while. Robert Barnard knows how to write and write well, but I read his Bones in the Attic and didn’t much care for it. In fact, there was something in it that deeply disappointed me. Though there is a clear case of homicide – the police don’t ever actually get around to investigating. Charlie Peace, who I’ve heard spoken of as one of the better protagonists going today, barely makes an appearance and when he does, he’s only advising a civilian who wants the case solved more than the police seem to. In this sense it was an amateur sleuth novel more than the police procedural I was hoping it would be.

Now, for an amateur sleuth novel, this was quite excellent. The prose style is a masterclass. The main character was well drawn as were several of the minor ones. In this sense, it was worth reading, but I was simply looking for something else and the fact that the amateur sleuth is the lead investigator still grates a bit. In my thinking, unless there’s a really good reason otherwise, the police should be the ones investigating. No really good reason was ever put forward that I ever saw.

Anyone know if this is typical Barnard?


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