Top critical review
Good in parts
on 24 November 2011
I enjoyed the first half of this book as Bauer gets into the heads of her characters: especially the detectives Reynolds and Rice; and the damaged local policeman Jonas Holly. But the teenagers just didn't feel like teenagers to me, being far too innocent and wholesome (do today's teens really regard Will Smith in Men in Black as the epitome of cool?) As the story develops it seems to descend into the absurd, with the pathology of the perpetrator being so ridiculous that I found myself giggling rather than being chilled...
It's a shame as Bauer manages to inject real emotion into parts of this book, especially in Jonas Holly's story. But this is sadly diluted, even dissipated, by the need, so prevalent in contemporary crime, to create a criminal even madder and more twisted than we have seen before. For me this failed spectacularly, and the book utterly failed to convince me from the last third onwards.
Add to this Bauer's rather strained writing style at points: someone is `momentarily discombobulated' (p.45), someone else's `urinary tract had stalled like Middle Eastern peace talks' (p.166); a ponytail is fastened `with the precision of an SAS kitbag' (p.188); and Jonas has scars that `crawled and twisted across his pale skin like some strange delicacy that might require chopsticks' (p.254).
If you're an avid fan of the crime fiction genre, and can focus on the story rather than the way in which it is told then maybe these won't niggle as they did me. I certainly liked bits of this book which were emotionally bleak and powerful - but too much of the rest felt like rather badly-crafted crime-by-numbers.