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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea for a novel, but fails to hit the target, 28 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Deaths (Hardcover)
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I was interested to try Mark Lawson's novel partly because I enjoy his arts writing and journalism and partly because he seemed to have hit on a timely theme for a novel: how the wealthy weather the crash.

The underpinning idea is great: 4 wealthy families live lives of indulgence and privilege. Suddenly one family are dead, presumed murdered by one of their own household. The question is why. Its not a "who dunnit" we know that pretty much from the outset, its partly "who got dun" - which of the families it is, is concealed (just about) till the end and " why was they dun" which is really the subject of the tale.

So far so good. But having set up this interesting situation, Lawson never really gets into the lives of his subjects. Sure they are boorish, but he never really finds out why and they end up being merely boring. Partly this is because he doesn't explore the hinterland of their lives - They live in a village, but apart from the vicar and another couple who are more or less the same as them we never see the context of their lives. Where is the army of cleaners, gardeners - even housekeepers and cooks that wealthy folk like these are likely to have? The only ones we meet are Australian nannies who appear in order to be potentially "shaggable" and in order to be a little plot device at the end.

Whilst on the subject of sex, we have plenty of that, much of which is nauseatingly lurid: this won't get the Booker, but the Bad Sex Awards are definitely in reach "'I love you' he grunts, as he always does, when she finally feels the hot splash deep inside"

The plausibility problems run deeper: one family's luxurious income comes from the GP wife - but you don't earn anything like that sort of money, particularly a GP as she is described, doing her surgeries and agonising over patients - if you want to make money run a string of surgeries and nursing homes and agonise over balance sheets. Similarly another wife is a professional cook, but when it all goes pear shaped, she is found running round the cut price supermarket with an armful of coupons. Would she really be buying 2 for 1 Angel Delight? Surely a cook would get down to basic raw ingredients and cook economically and from scratch.

So an interesting premise leads to a tedious journey - disappointing.
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