Well I did it guys. I confess, I did have my doubts. Never underestimate the sheer power of laziness or the seductive call of fourteen seasons of Law and Order SVU. Fourteen. That’s right.
Nine books in three months was the goal. This week I’ll be back reading legal judgments and newspapers. But before I recap my little summer project, I’d better give you my last review.
For book 9/9, I decided to visit the crime genre. I don’t actually read a lot of crime novels. But seeing as our house is absolutely packed with them (enough to last me into the next twenty years) I thought I might as well give one a go. Suffice to say, I had quite a lot of choice.
I picked up Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham. It’s the classic – a quick-witted psychologist is brought in to help the stupid cops – setup. I read the book very quickly and I did enjoy it for that reason, but from a literary point of view it was a bit underwhelming. But, first things first. Say You’re Sorry opens three years after a pair schoolgirls – Natasha and Piper – disappear from an idyllic English village. The protagonist, a forensic psychologist, is called in to assist the police investigation when a couple are brutally murdered in the farmhouse where Natasha lived at the time of her disappearance. Suddenly it’s possible that Tash and Piper are still alive.
There are a few things that I did like about this book. Firstly, it’s super easy to get into to. It certainly doesn’t waste any time, jumping into a gory double homicide within the first few pages. It’s fast paced throughout and generally a nice, light, easy read. Secondly, the story is told from two perspectives – the psychologist and one of the girls, Piper, who keeps a journal during her captivity. Because the reader knows what’s happening to the girls during the investigation process, Robotham sustains a powerful sense of urgency – when are they going to be found? Will they survive? And most importantly, who has taken them?
There were also a couple of things I didn’t like. I found that some of the dialogue and characterisation a tad lacklustre. The missing girls were well written – interesting and individual enough to foster some emotional investment on the part of the reader and to keep me interested in their fate. But some of the secondary characters were very two dimensional and dead. Now, I don’t expect every single character to be a sparkling beacon of intrigue but people who speak entirely in clichés are boring and distracting. Their scenes seemed a little stilted and unrealistic, which detracted from the atmosphere of the story.
Secondly, and most importantly, the twist was a problem. I didn’t predict it, which is usually a good sign. However, it felt very random to me. It was almost as though the author had lined the suspects up, closed his eyes, stretched out one arm, spun around one or twice and then declared ‘IT’S YOU!’ You’re the lucky murderer. The clues were explained to some extent but the ending didn’t feel neat and clever. The best twists are the ones that seem obvious when you look back. When push came to shove, the twist here was unsatisfying for me.
To be honest, I’m not sure how this author compares in the world of crime writing. As I said, I don’t usually read crime but maybe I should start reading some more. A nice psychological thriller is easy entertainment and easy reading, even if it’s not a life changing literary experience. So watch this space.
So Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham was Summer Reading Book 9/9. That marks the end of the project, the end of summer. God, how is that possible? There’s another busy year, with work stretching endlessly before me. But I have a little resolution. I’m going to try and face this year with a good book tucked under one arm (figuratively speaking). Sure, reading takes a touch more energy than plopping down in front of your Facebook newsfeed but it’s infinitely better for your brain and usually much more entertaining in the long run. (My Facebook newsfeed is often like my refrigerator, I check it every three minutes but nothing new and spectacular appears).
So I would encourage you to try and read a great book this year. One you love enough to recommend to a friend. I know that reading is an easy habit to lose, trust me, I do. But if you’ve been reading the same book for the last six months, dust that baby off and get it done. You might even enjoy it.