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Bit of a mixed bag
on 19 February 2014
Good thriller writers are few and far between, so I have to admit my hopes for this novel were not high but I did find myself warming to the story during the opening pages set on the train and wondered if I had found a new talent. There is a good idea at the heart of this - the death - supposedly suicide - of a young woman who is also connected to the disappearance of a young boy in mysterious circumstances but sadly the simple effective start gives way to a confusing and over complicated plot and it soon becomes apparent that here is a writer well out of her comfort zone.
As other reviewers have mentioned much of what happens goes well beyond the reach of probability - that a casual encounter on a train with a complete stranger would lead Anna to plunge into a full on investigation, following a complicated treasure trail of obscure clues or that family/friends would agree to answer the detailed questions of someone who is neither a private investigator or a cop involved in the case. The writing is also rather poor in places and some of the characters are somewhat stereotyped - the worst being the West Indian sisters who seem to have come straight out of a Lilt commercial.
On the plus side there is no doubting the author's passion for her story - on a couple of occasions when I was ready to abandon the book altogether she brought in a twist which kept me reading and some passages are really quite exciting. The book needs some serious editing to lift it from the status of a draft manuscript with some good ideas, to a polished work of fiction.
The ending frankly is a bit of a mess - I'm afraid that the coincidence that ties Anna in with the mystery is a bit much for me to swallow - it would have been better if she had been deliberately targeted because of her own connection with the case. I did kind of guess who did it - mainly because he/she was drawn with so much more detail that most of the other peripheral characters - but the way the revelation was handled was poor - the whole thing ends as somewhat of a mess.
Still it's no worse than many novels I've purchased in the last few years, which were heralded as the next big thing and turned out to be a disappointment.