This is a crime novel; and a fantasy novel; and a thriller. And also a romance. A book of many genres, then. The fantasy aspect is small really, but it is important – adding a whole other challenge to the crime aspect (which itself is really a smaller part) and also the thriller aspect (which is the biggest part). But this is really a romantic story of love impeded by the barrier of a wife, and the retaliation of that wife against the burgeoning relationship. It’s a well-worn template (I suspect!), but here it is embellished with some great colouring. It’s a good book.
Now, I’m fairly liberal in my reading – I like most genres. But two genres that I’m really not a fan of are romance and crime. So at outset, I was unsure how I would get on with this. But I was pleasantly surprised; I enjoyed it. It didn’t leave me turning pages ravenously – it was never going to – but I read it comfortably and was happy with the experience.
And as any good book reviewer should, I shall now attempt to appraise this book as objectively as possible.
To give a bit of colour (but without giving too much away, obviously) here’s a bit of a summary: our protagonist is a young woman who’s successful in her career, but unsuccessful in love. And then she meets the perfect man – the only problem being that he’s already married. Damn. Will his wife roll over and let true love flourish? Not a chance. Otherwise there would be no story, would there?
But beyond this template, we have some impossible crimes occurring, crimes that bamboozle the greatest detective minds in the land. They’re impossible, surely, but then those detectives don’t know that this is a fantasy novel! The fantastic is suddenly the norm, and this adds another dimension. But we are still left with a question: how are they linked?
So what does this intriguing mix leave us with? Here are my thoughts.
The overarching taste of the story is really the rather mundane – the corporate world is the corporate world. For me, there was perhaps a little too much ‘everyday office’ referencing – I am bored of powerpoint presentations and don’t need them in my literature too! I like to read to escape, and this was a little too close to the everyday to be escapist – for me at least. But in the context of this story, it is all in place, and some people may actually like that tangible link – so this is certainly just a matter of taste. And in actual fact, if I think about it, this ordinary backdrop with the extraordinary sheen worked quite well overall, so I’m not sure I’d even recommend changing anything.
From a prose perspective, I did struggle a bit with the point of view to start with. The narration seemed to follow a character in each chapter á la multiple third person; but then there was a mid-chapter switch of POV later on, and this confused me. It was only even further into the novel that I realised that it is actually omniscient, and hence the switch was fine. It certainly didn’t ruin the read, but I noticed it, and it would have been useful to have known that from the outset.
The read itself was good – easy going and fluid as you would expect in this contemporary thriller genre. It is well edited and well formatted. The only thing I would note is that for me it felt a little shallow, but I think that is a construct of the omniscient POV – it is much harder to really get into characters when narration is from outside. That being said, we do get clear character thoughts via italic text, and I gather this is probably a common setup in this genre, so much of this is probably a taste thing.
Another taste thing is the descriptive detailing early in the book. I think it only really cropped up in the first few chapters, but there was quite extensive descriptive passages. This certainly died down, but when it arose it left me wandering a bit. But as I say, this is a taste thing, and it is really only present early on.
But overall this was a decent story, with a clear trajectory and “pinch points”, interesting characters (though not characters I found I cared intensely for), and a big enough sprinkling of the exotic to really keep you engaged. Not a book I would naturally pick up, but one I enjoyed nonetheless.