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Great page turner, americanised style
on 13 March 2006
This is the first time I've read Peter James and picked it up after hearing it reviewed positively on Simon Mayo's show. It really is a page turner! The chapters are very to fairly short which makes it a great book for people like me who have a 25 minute train commute - you can usually time the finishing of the chapters just right for your stop.
The book involves a stag night prank of burying a mate in a coffin. If if this seems somewhat unlikely, James does get away with explaining the history that leads to this event, making it plausible enough to stick with it. When the perpetrators are killed in a van crash our man is trapped in the coffin with only one person in the world knowing where he is; and that person has most to gain by him staying lost (trust me I give nothing away, we're only up to page 40 or 50 here!). Therein hangs the first of many twists; there are several, yet somehow they are nearly all credible within the confines of this tale. And speaking of confines, some of the coffin scenes really are claustrophobic to read.
The slight downsides then. As has been referenced elsewhere the author I believe has been a scriptwriter in the States and at times there is an americanisation to the story that grates ever so slightly, including the use of american type terminology that wouldn't naturally be used here. Stylistically it has more of an american feel than say a traditional English crime fiction feel about it. I don't say that this is bad, by the way, but just be aware that PD James it ain't (and that may well be a good thing for some of you)! The ending is also a little rushed and slightly patly contrived, but by then you've rattled along with the book at such a pace that you forgive this minor(ish) transgression.
In conclusion then, a page turner it most certainly is. I knocked this off in two days because I couldn't put the blooming thing down. If like me you have a busy life from which you need to be occasionally transported, released into a private world of high drama that goes at a rattling good pace, has plenty of twists and genuine 'oh my god!' moments, then this is the book for you.