Two Disappointing Products of Book Churning.


English: The Crystal Palace in 1910, London
English: The Crystal Palace in 1910, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here it is Wednesday, time for another book review. I’m afraid it isn’t pretty.

Charles Todd has been one of my favorite writers for years. The Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series are a pleasure to read. At least until Proof of Guilt entered this reader’s world.

An unidentified body turns up in London with a man’s watch that can be identified as having belonged to a wine merchant. The body is a victim of a hit and run but the accident happened elsewhere and the victim moved. And the body is not that of the wine merchant. No, he has disappeared though.

The story shambles all over the place with the lead investigator, Ian Rutledge driving back and forth all over England. There was one exciting part near the end of the book, which I thought would turn the story into a good one, but when the scene was over so was the excitement. I never did figure out the point of the mystery. And where was the missing man? Does this imply that we will see this shadowy figure again, as in a future villain? Or was there no point in his body never turning up?

I am sadly disappointed in all of this. Does it mean we have come to the end of Ian Rutledge as one of the most innovative characters in fiction today? I hope not. I hope this was a bubble in a wonderful series. Perhaps mother and son team Todd’s editor needs to give them a break from this stereotypical churning out of one book a year business.

Another sad entry into this category is my other favorite author’s new book.

Deborah Crombie’s  latest is called The Sound of Broken Glass. It isn’t quite as pointless as the above example but there were times while reading it that I thought it could have been about half as long as it was.

For one thing the characters don’t seem to be cohesive to the story until everything is tied up at the end.

A lawyer turns up dead in an odd and disturbing way. He has ties to the world of music. There are some guys in a band. There is one in particular who seems to be a suspect. There are flashbacks in italics to a young boy’s point of view of growing up in Crystal Palace.

I love the setting details and the factual bits about the Crystal Palace at the beginning of each chapter. I love to learn things when I read. Another thing I love about her series of books is the continuing interesting relationship between Duncan and Gemma and their growing family of kids and dogs. This always add such a warm point of human interest you can’t help but love, love, love her books.

But of all her Duncan and Gemma series of books this is the weakest. I really believe this is a result of a constant pressure to produce at least a book a year. That pressure is set up by her editors and agents, probably because of a perceived demand by the public. Sadly, it isn’t unusual. I saw it with the series with Kay Scarpetta written by Patricia Cornwell.

There is a demand by the public! But it will go away if the product isn’t up to the standard set by wonderful previous books.

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