After the heavy but brilliant non-fiction of The Unwinding, I’ve retrenched to a bit of escapist crime & police fiction….
This is a short, atmospheric, slightly gothic tale which packs a lot of plot complexity and character exposition into a slim number of pages. It follows a man just emerging from trouble who meets a woman and ends up in more trouble….and constantly shifts who the source of the trouble is.
I enjoyed it as a slice of noir-ish, gloomy French literature, expertly translated. Although it might be one sub-plot of another novel, sometimes being sparing & concise & focused can draw the reader in more. Such is the case here.
I read my first McDermid novel last year and wondered why I’d waited so long. This is my first foray into her ‘Tony Hill and Carol Jordan’ series, which apparently got made on TV as Wire in the Blood, though I confess that passed me by.
Anyway, this is entertaining fare, with a couple of puzzling plot strands interweaving on European rivers, and the relationship between Hill and Jordan also ebbing and flowing with the tides. It is fairly predictable but the drama ratchets up nicely and there’s some nice pre-Brexit cross-border police work to keep the pages turning.
Compared to The Distant Echo, I felt quite a few aspects strained belief: indeed, the centre-piece of the plot is a coincidence, and my credulity was fully strained by the end of it as more and more far-fetched elements stacked up. But she is a brilliant writer of people, plot and pace, so it’s still a good read to while some hours away…