Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Entertaining, worth reading.
on 2 August 2009
This book is an entertaining, relatively light read, peppered with graphic, if occasional, scenes of violence and death. I mention the violence because although there is much more to the book than that, I felt that the various murders were described in such clear detail that for someone who was squeamish, it would not be pleasant. Injuries and the like are actually described in greater detail than most characters' appearances. I wouldn't say I found this off-putting, but people who don't like violent movies or tv shows should probably avoid this book.
The main reason I'm not giving this book 5 stars is that I thought some of the reasoning and plot points were a little simplistic. There were a lot of coincidences, and a lot of elements that I thought seemed strange enough to be unrealistic. I agree with one of the previous reviewers who said they thought it a weak point that a police officer would be sent to investigate deaths abroad. I would go further than this and say that the fact that Bronson in particular is the police officer who goes to investigate the deaths is a little strange, and in my opinion the explanation for choosing him was not very convincing. I also thought it was strange that he involved his ex-wife in what was going on, apparently without the permission or knowledge of his superiors. This was at a point when he suspected foul play with the deaths; surely he would not be allowed to involve non-police personnel in a potential murder investigation without the proper clearance? In addition, the characters seemed to work out the meanings of difficult clues very quickly, and different groups of people seemed to make the same discoveries simultaneously. That's also a bit unrealistic. Bronson's ex-wife Angela seems just as able to work out the clues concerning something which is not her area of study, as are the academics whose lives are devoted to it. That doesn't really make sense to me, and I felt the character of Angela in particular needed to be better developed.
With all of that said, I want to stress again that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is an entertaining read, without being something that should be analysed in a great amount of detail. One of the elements that I thought was really very well done was the research into the historical information, all of which was extremely interesting and showed the author had really gotten to know his subject matter. I do think it was strange that so many of the characters had the same level of knowledge (particularly Angela), but the author's own gathering of knowledge cannot be faulted.
In summary, if you enjoy novels based on historical events and mysteries, and you don't mind the odd bit of ultra-violence, then you will like this book. It's good fun, and won't take you very long to finish. A good book to take on holiday or to relax for a few hours.