With its concept this could have been great, if only it didn't have a main character that made no sense, the barest plot that took forever to go anywhWith its concept this could have been great, if only it didn't have a main character that made no sense, the barest plot that took forever to go anywhere, and when it did it was ridiculous, and some pretty tedious writing to boot....more
This is really a 3.5, because it was definitely a 4 up until that ending - which somehow manages to be totally unsurprising and yet make very little sThis is really a 3.5, because it was definitely a 4 up until that ending - which somehow manages to be totally unsurprising and yet make very little sense. Great use of upstate NY and the canal though, if not always flattering....more
I'm honestly not sure how I found this book anymore, but I remember finding the setting intriguing and encouraged by the nearly 4 star average reviewsI'm honestly not sure how I found this book anymore, but I remember finding the setting intriguing and encouraged by the nearly 4 star average reviews. I found it slow going at first, but I stuck with it, to my own regret; once the story started picking up, the problems with the writing became glaringly obvious. But I can't drop a mystery, I wanted to know how it ends! So instead I forced myself through the last two thirds in one sitting, because obviously that's healthy.
A lot of the issues I had with this book stem from the writing. It's all over the place, frankly - it would be fine for a couple pages and then suddenly every sentence was 2 words, you’d go ages without paragraphs and then suddenly what seemed like a block of text comparatiely, bare and gritty one minute and attempting at philosophical the next. The dialogue would be almost too boring, then suddenly so cliche I started laughing; Duffy would be oddly prophetic in the middle of one interview, then totally not understand what was happening in the next scene. Which would have been livable, had the thing I was staying for - the mystery - been at all satisfying or fleshed out enough. There wasn’t enough of a cast of possible suspects, it was too obvious what the detectives were ‘missing’, and the ending was frankly ridiculous. I also felt the handling of homosexuality was a little uncomfortable; I fully understand the setting, and would have expected no less than to confront the reality of the treatment of homosexuality in the setting, in the time period, and within the larger historical context, including in the attitude of our protagonist. But to have him question his own sexuality over a kiss with another man that made no sense to begin with and had little point to the narrative - a man who then dies in a more torturous way compared to the many deaths from shootings and bombings and riots that are talked about but given little fanfare - felt off. To be honest, the amount of weirdly simplistically described but still skeezy seeming sex with women also held little point and only further confused the characterization of Duffy, as well as minimizing the few female characters there were.
Maybe I’m nitpicking, because at the end of the day I should have stopped reading, or at least not stayed up half the night determined to see it through and now am tired and annoyed about it today. I did find the plot fast moving enough past a certain point that it kept a certain amount of interest, and I thought the historical context was its biggest strength. That said, it felt half like a history book and half like a daily log of every ounce of alcohol Duffy drank and how diverse his music tastes were; when it comes down to it, the actual plot was too minimal and the development of the main character too awkward, and I was left a little confused about what I’d even read....more