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Friday, 8 March 2013


What a waste of time. This book actually started to make me angry, about half way in, and things didn't get any better after that.

Hawthorn and Child are two London police detectives who, as the novel opens, are investigating an attack on a young man in the early morning. It starts off slow enough, but there is a crime involved, and so you expect some revelations, some investigation, something. But then the novel veers off, it looks at snapshots of other people's lives, almost all of them unnamed, though most of them with some tenuous connection to the eponymous policemen.

And that's it. There is no narrative, no progression with any of the stories, no sense of unity in the novel, just person after unnamed person, some internal monologue, a suicide, unexplained. In fact, nothing is explained, nothing has any meaning, it is nihilist and empty and pointless. A waste of time. There are plenty of good books out there I could have been reading, and I had to burn all these hours wading through this turgid non-event.

More than that, the writing is utterly opaque. There is no colour to descriptions, and in fact almost no descriptions at all. None of the characters is described at all physically, and generally it is hard to tell them apart, especially the two main characters. And most of the sections simply consist of a story about "he" or "she" or "I", and so you are four or five pages in to each section before you know who is who, and what their relationship is to the story. And by then you have stopped caring.

None of the narratives reach a conclusion, none of them fit into the overall story, such as it is, we learn nothing, there is no character development, no resolutions, no point. I kept expecting some kind of effort at unifying the various threads, but there is none. They exist as discrete entities, with no development or meaning. After The Parts, which I really enjoyed, this is a horrible, self-indulgent letdown.

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