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Sluggish then energetic then....a fizzle
on 25 September 2002
Funny old book, this one. It starts in sprightly fashion, with a nasty and powerful set piece that sets the tone for the principal character's behaviour throughout the novel. This, however, is followed by practically 200 pages of (admittedly well written) set up. The reader really needs to stick with the book at this stage - it is worth it.
The mid section of Icarus really cooks with gas and Andrews sets up a plot of complex contours, dragging the reader off in an unexpected - and satisfying - direction. Jack Keller goes from smug and slightly irritating restauranteur to sympathetic, heartbroken detective and this arc is believable. He is drawn into a world of aggressive, sexually charged women, one of whom he suspects murdered his young friend/protegee and (possibly) his wife whilst also bumping off a whole clutch of secondary characters. A really unputdownable sequence, this.
Jack's detective work seems a little too easy but the narrative is compelling. Pages flick easily. By page 450, a really clever denouement was all I needed to declare this an excellent thriller. Ah...and there's the rub. Whilst the ending is a bit of a surprise and resolves all the threads, it stretches belief a mile too far and is contrived in the extreme (even the "Icarus" theme feels forced). I expected Andrews to weave the ending back to include and explain events from the set piece at the start of the book. He didn't. The twist is mediocre, not barnstorming. Costs him at least a star, if not two.
Worth a read but keep your expectations to modest levels.