Top critical review
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Yet another "meh" crime thriller that offers nothing new in any way
on 21 January 2015
Not much point in writing at length when there have already been 1,359 reviews of this book!
Quick summary : Former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter is temporarily recruited by Scotland Yard to help them find the person/people responsible for a series of abductions of women. Four have been released with permanent brain damage and a fifth has just gone missing.
James Carol, the author, was born in Scotland and lives in England. I mention this because the leading character in the novel is American but almost everything about him seems British. His language and verbal mannerisms very rarely give the reader the impression that this is an American in London; there's the (very) occasional use of such words as 'candy' or 'cellphone' but these may actually be the only two in the tale. Non-American crime writers such as R J Ellory, Lee Child and John Connolly have consistently done a far better job of convincing readers that their lead characters are from the USA.
As for Broken Dolls, I am astonished and actually saddened that 1,266 people have said that they either love it or like it. It's not BAD, but it's so ordinary in every way that I can only wonder why people are so easily satisfied these days. The main man Jefferson Winter is utterly forgettable, and nothing he does lives up to the hype on the back cover that implies his IQ is not far off that of Da Vinci (which was over 200 apparently). His background suggests readers should expect an interesting and conflicted personality (his father having been a serial killer), but there's really nothing to either like or dislike. He's just a completely unremarkable person who I would have thought most readers will find difficult to engage with. And he's the only character worthy of a mention really; his sidekicks DI Mark Hatcher and DS Sophie Templeton are little more than cardboard cut-outs whose every word is built around Winter's supposedly overpowering personality - they make Scotland Yard look like a bunch of amateurs. The bad guy is ill-defined and a mish-mash of at least a dozen psychopaths from film and fiction over the past fifty years, indeed I was thinking of the film Psycho at least 100 pages before the author had the good grace to mention it himself.
Do not be mis-led by the huge number of positive votes. This is not a very good story at all, the characters are plain vanilla and the writing style has no style at all. I have another book by the same author - "Watch Me" - and I have a feeling this will be collecting dust on my 'to-be-read' shelf for a good while yet.