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Posted May 29, 2003
Another Dull, Unpersuasive Robinson Yarn
I found this book to be extremely dull. Other reviewers obviously disagree, I am also disappointed to see a blurb from M. Connelly whom I greatly admire. The 'mystery' plot was secondary to Banks's love and family life. Since his personal life generated no appeal for me (even though I have two sons about Brian's age), the novel hit dudsville really fast. The trite intercutting of differing character's voices also was ineffective. The mystery itself , taking place 40 years ago, just after the war, was moderately interesting, but the solution was rushed, sort of just tagged on. Obviously, the murderer should have been Vivian, but was that too 'obvious.' Easier to have a mild mannered Yank explode, rather than the paradigmatic British spinster-crime-novelist. A murder in the present would have been appropriate--kept waiting for it. A few of the characters held my interest: Gloria, Vivian (Gwen)and, in his brief appearance, the boy who found the skeleton. I didn't respond to Banks (dull,self-indulgent, rather dense), Annie (the new woman is okay, but she needs to be put back in her box), bouncy Jenny, and all minor characters. I guess Robinson was attempting to write a psychological suspense novel, ala Ruth Rendell. He chose a poor model. I have read over 500 crime/mystery/suspense novels and only a very few have pulled it off: Thomas Cook's Breakheart Hill and Mortal Memory; Andrew Taylor's Four Last Things ( the best suspense novel I have read); River of Darkness, great on many levels. Finally, I should mention Void Moon (very underrated). I have read four novels by Robinson and could only finish two: Innocent Graves and this one. Graves has some interesting characters and a fairly good plot. Banks is dull as usual and unrealistic as a 'coppper.' There are many good to average mysteries out there: do youself a favor and find one, not written by Robinson. He is truly mediocre.
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