Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Unsatisfying magpie crime fiction
on 9 June 2013
The Doll Princess was a big disappointment to me, floundering under a tedious over use of practically phonetic Mancunian dialogue, fatal under characterisation of the lead and a nagging suspicion that I'd read / seen it all before.
The book blurb mentions the author has been through a creative writing course and the story feels like it's been cobbled together by someone 'borrowing' elements from other works that he's put a lot of time into studying. Get Carter seems to have featured highly in setting up this story although unlike Carter, Henry Bane has little plausible motivation to get into the plot of Doll Princess. The dialogue has a whiff of a Mancunian Irvine Welsh, tho with so much filler chat, it tends to drag while the short sentences structure is very Ellroy, and commonly replicated these days.
Even Bane's name currently registers more for Tom Hardy's performance in Dark Knight Rises, a film which was released a few months before this book was published . . . perhaps cynical from me (although I see the second Bane book features a komodo dragon, recently featured in Skyfall).
The setting of 1996 is completely arbitrary, and made an even odder selection given the author was born in 1987. The constant references to the IRA bomb are pretty much the only sense of the era, bar the cop out tactic of constantly naming 'of the time' tunes playing in every club or flat Bane walks into. The mentions of Bane's Harrington jacket are in fact the only description we have on the character, bar a height reference against his pal Gordon. It's an odd choice to create such a blank character to lead a crime book, and as such the story never feels particularly thrilling.
Add in Bane's ability to constantly fall into plot progressions (ie he is detained by a government agency but, to aid the story, beats up the guy holding him hostage - in the back of a van - and is then treated to a torrent of exposition on the story) rather than make them and a predictable late twist to make the whole thing go 'a bit Chinatown' and the Doll Princess registers only as an over stylised and smug entry into the crime genre.