Plethora. Lovely word, rolls off the tongue. I gather it means a large or excessive amount of something and I have certainly been reading loads of detective stories in the last week or so. Mixed enjoyment. Some irritation. So here are my thoughts.
First up the latest Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson When the Music's Over (please note this is not published until July); I have read all of the Inspector Banks books and, on the whole, find them interesting, well plotted and well written. BUT, and this is a big but, the author will insist on telling us what music Banks is listening to and going into great details about the groups and the singers, to the point of tedium. OK we get it that Peter Robinson likes this stuff and wants us to know but I think we have got the message by now. It has got worse over the last three books and now detracts from what is nearly always a good story. I am surprised that his editor (if he has one) , has not come down hard on this. I would.
A few years ago a writer whose detective I used to follow wrote a book which was clearly based on the James Bulgar case and dwelt on it to the point of being distasteful. I thought it was ill judged and amazed that the publishers allowed it through. When the Music's Over latches onto Operation Yewtree and in the course of verisimilitude names all those involved, what the police have to do to make sure the public don't think they have got it wrong, mistakes made in the past etc etc. Banks has been asked to investigate a case of historic abuse, and at this stage I wondered whether to bother carrying on, but I did. The famous name in the story is clearly based on Stuart Hall even down to his physical characteristics and appearance and I found this usage of a recent case left a nasty taste in my mouth. We also have a case running alongside this which involved a gang of Pakistanis grooming underage girls, again taken from life and again, I was not happy with this at all.
The book reads like a Robinson polemic on Islamophobia, racism and immigration and it seems to me that Inspector Banks has now been hijacked by political correctness and wants to give us, the readers, a lecture. I was not happy with this at all, and yet finished reading it as there is an excellent story in here, with interesting characters and good solid police work. I just wish the author would stick to telling stories and not give us his views on the previously mentioned topics. I can read all about that in the papers.
Love you Dead - Peter James. This is the latest Detective Grace story which are all based in Brighton and my original reason for starting this series as it is a town I love and have happy childhood memories of my holidays there. I enjoy these books very much though every now and then in the middle of the narrative there is suddenly a chunk of really clunky writing. Never lasts very long and is usually when he is chatting to his mate Branson. Then it vanishes and we pick up again. Happens again this time. I daresay I am the only one who has spotted it or even thought it so fee free to ignore me. (Published 19 May 2016)
This is a great story and really exciting with twists and turns all over the place. We start with the mysterious death of an elderly financier who happens to be engaged to a very young fiance, Jodie, who seems fairly untroubled by his demise. They are out skiing and he disappears down a slope never to be seen again. While recovering from her sorrow she has a one night stand with a Russian who she meets in a bar in New York and clocks him over the head when he gets a bit rough. Before she leaves his room she has a quick look around and finds a bag stuffed with cash and a memory stick hidden away. Silly woman decides to take it with her not realising that she will likely end up with the Russian mafia on her trail. She hies it back to Brighton where she is to meet her next husband/victim and off they go on a cruise and, of course, soon meets his death.
Running alongside this investigation we have the follow up and, at long last, resolution of the mystery of Sandy Grace's disappearance which has run through all the books. Very grateful for this as I felt it was getting really annoying and a plot device that had outlived its usefulness. And it ends with a twist in this saga that anybody who has read all of these books (ME!) could see coming a mile off and lines us up nicely for the next one.
Great read and I sat and read it in one sitting.
OK have another two to go but will write about those tomorrow as I gather my thoughts on same. I have also recently received a heap of Crime Classics from the British Library so many more detectives to come. I am beginning to think I should rename my blog Random Teccery (a phrase used by the wonderful Ngaio Marsh) but will refrain.....