5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A bad day at the office,
This review is from: Capital Punishment (Charlie Boxer Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Many of us read crime fiction to escape the humdrum of our working lives. We want high stakes, conflicted characters, atmospheric locations. Wilson normally delivers these, but reading this book is a bit like the day job.
Capital Punishment begins in London with the kidnap of Alyshia, a beautiful but troubled young woman. Her father is a wealthy Indian businessman but it soon becomes clear that the kidnapper is after something other than money. Charles Boxer, freelance kidnap consultant, is brought in to negotiate.
The book seems at first to be a psychological thriller, pitting the kidnapper against Alyshia, as he breaks down her defences, then against the family and Boxer. But then it spirals off into a complex account of various businesses, criminal gangs and government agencies across London and South Asia having a lot of meetings, as if to reassure us that being in international espionage or terrorism is no more exciting than any other form of corporate management.
Boxer is a strangely lifeless character. This is partly to do with the plot. For the first half of the novel, he doesn't have much to do apart from form a relationship with the kidnapped woman's mother. He gives her lengthy expositions of the kidnap negotiation procedure manual. He swims in the in-house pool. They share lengthy psychoanalytic perspectives on their respective backstories. There are none of the tense, visceral exchanges you would expect from two people thrown into sudden close contact, one facing the possible death or torture of her daughter, the other with the responsibility for saving her life.
The most interesting characters are London's minor criminals. In particular, Dan, a former nurse turned dealer, has an inner life and degree of conflict which is lacking in Boxer, who is resolutely humourless and decisive. It is in this world that the best of the action and drama takes place.
Wilson has written some great books and I'm sure he will do again. The end of Capital Punishment is set up to allow Boxer to return. He is supposedly giving up international travel to concentrate on his family. Let's hope he kicks over the trouser press, recovers the personality he lost in transit and inhabits London in the way that Wilson's Falcón does Seville.