Top positive review
A very enjoyable read - but .....
10 September 2017
Recommended to me by someone whose judgment I trust, and at 0.99 for the Kindle edition, it was worth a try. And, like most other reviewers, I found the book to be a well written and engaging story. I read a lot of crime fiction originating from many countries, and this sits comfortably amongst them all.
There is the usual mix of likeable and not so likeable characters, all with realistic personal traits and habits and flaws, contained within a story that has drama, humour, personal and professional relationships, and a narrative that moves along well. And, of course, the "well, I never expected that" sort of surprises.
My only reservation, which does not affect the rating, but which is still mildly irritating, is the use of non-standard spelling in an attempt to represent a mixture of accent and dialect pronunciation. The problem with this is that unless you know what convention for non-standard spelling the writer is using you can never be sure exactly what pronunciation is intended.
I am English, married to a Scot and living permanently in west central Scotland, so well accustomed to the variations in speech across Glasgow and points further west. I am also a competent linguist and fluent reader, so well accustomed to variations in spelling, dialect and language(s).
Some, most even, of the spelling Meyrick uses is standard representation, "tae" for "to" being an obvious example, so easy enough to assimilate. But I am not sure what is gained by spelling "one" as "wun", where the end result is surely the same, it just makes reading it a bit more awkward, as we read largely by recognising the physical appearance of familiar written words.
For comparison, the majority of native speakers, whether speaking English English, Scottish English or actual Scots, if asking for a "bag of chips (or portion of, or poke of)", would not usually pronounce the "f" in "of". In such expressions (a something of something) the unstressed "of" tends to sound exactly the same as the unstressed "a" in elephant. It's not lazy speech, it's not wrong, that's just how the English language works, whichever variation of it you use - it's standard! And so, very few writers feel the need to represent that reduced pronunciation by showing it differently. In fact, to do so calls attention to something that is not worth noting.
Better to stick to the use of different words and expressions to convey the differences in speech (if you think they are worth bringing to our attention). So by all means, use Scots words (eg hame, stane, dug, and many others), or dialect words like dunt and blether, or specific and obvious pronunciations which are easy to read regardless of the reader's own speech, like faither and jaicket to take two simple examples, or even familiar Gaelic words like craic. But as not all readers will have the same speech (and therefore not the same ears) as the writer, attempts to represent idiosyncratic pronunciation by different spelling can just get in the way of a good read.
Or you can help us by saying that someone speaks Kelvinside, East End, panloaf, Highland, Edinburgh, West Coast, or London, or whatever. If we know what those differences are, it helps us, and if we don't then we can still understand that they are all different from each other. But wacky spelling?
Does this stop me wanting to read further DCI Daley stories? No, I've already started the next one, so clearly not.
But is it irritating? Oh, yes!