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Pauline's Fantasy Reviews

Reviews of fantasy books, plus some mystery, sci-fi and literary works, and my random thoughts on book-related matters.

Currently reading

Dragon Queen (The Memory of Flames, #5)
Stephen Deas
The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle #2)
H. Anthe Davis, Erica Dakin

Locked In (Jessica Daniel, #1)

Locked In (Jessica Daniel, #1) - Kerry Wilkinson 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.

The 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.