Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Keep going with this
on 24 April 2008
Like other reviewers, I found this hard going in places. The story is told both in Andy Dalziel's voice (dictating his thoughts into a tape recorder: he isn't a master of the technology) and in that of Charlotte Heywood, a young student emailing her sister (of course, she is mistress of that one: I suppose to be right up the moment she should be Facebooking or Tweeting, but that would be hard to integrate into the narrative.) There are also conventional third person sections.
The book opens in one of Charlotte ("Charley's") emails and her contributions - lacking punctuation - apart from lots of dashes - and slopily speled - can be annoying. The lowest point for me was when I thought they were all done with, and then they started up again.
Yet the technique grew on me. To my shame, I haven't read 'Sanditon", the (unfinished) Jane Austen novel which inspired 'Cure' (set in Sandytown). I assume that story would have been told at least partially in letters, so we have here a modern version of a traditional form. I see from Wikipedia (I know, I know...) that 'Sanditon' concerns the development of a seaside town and that the town is constructed as much through the characters' evocation as it is physically, so there are clear parallels. Before I'm consigned to Pseuds' Corner, I should add that the different points of view allowed by the email/ voice recording technique allows Hill to get to places - and present facts - in a natural way that might otherwise be hard, so it is a definite addition to the crime novelist's toolbox, not just a stylistic quirk.
So, the way the story is told is potentially 'difficult' but has its merits. What else? The book carries the relationship between Dalziel and Pascoe quite a way forward - Pascoe is enjoying his independence, and we see how Andy reacts to that, and also how the ripples affect Wield. For long term fans this will be the most interesting aspect, perhaps, more so than the story itself which, while well plotted and satisfying, is nothing out of the ordinary (at least not compared to "The Death of Dalziel"). The reappearance of Franny Root is also welcome, and I suspect he'll be back.
In short, I think you'll either love this book, or leave it half finished. Probably not one to start with if you haven't read any Dalziel and Pascoe before ("Death of Dalziel" would be much better there) but hugely enjoyable if you can bear with the emails.