1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Over-elaborate structure, and deficient pacing,
This review is from: The Gardens Of The Dead (Father Anselm Novels) (Paperback)
At heart there's a good story here replete with moral overlacings, but Brodrick over-complicates the narrative and sacrifices pace for no good reason. Other reviewers have already discussed the plot so I won't, but too much happens in the last 70-100 pages, rather than gradually being revealed over the whole book.
The story is told through the view-point of what felt like me to be too many characters: Elizabeth, her son Nick, Anselm, Riley, Riley's wife, George. And the time of their telling flips backwards and forwards: the present after Elizabeth's death, the run-up to the trial, the trial period itself, 5 years after the trial, the present before her death, the youth of the characters, the past through George's notebooks... I'm not a reader who's easily confused, and I don't have any problem with fragmented narratives, but this felt unwieldy and unnecessary, bad structuring rather than something deliberate.
As some other reviewers have mentioned there are also too many coincidences, so that the characters we think of as having been arbitrarily brought together for a trial, turn out to have a secret shared history. This seemed unconvincing to me, particularly as it all unravels very late in the book with no clues or indications that would have turned this into a satisfying denouement.
Brodrick's writing is sensitive, thoughtful, sometimes deep and almost elegiac but in this novel, at least, the tone became submerged beneath a slightly haphazard narrative. So while I didn't particularly enjoy this book, I'm looking forward to reading A Whispered Name and am hoping the strangulated story we have here becomes straightened out.