Now I could be extra harsh and just give you the review of this that I gave to my girlfriend - "Too many lesbians, not enough murder," but that would...moreNow I could be extra harsh and just give you the review of this that I gave to my girlfriend - "Too many lesbians, not enough murder," but that would sell it short somewhat and make me sound a little bigoted. Nevertheless I was disappointed by Trick of the Dark primarily because the story seemed so tame and rather slow, not up to the standards I would expect from McDermid.
A man is killed on his wedding day, seemingly bludgeoned and drowned by his two business partners. Later the victims prospective mother-in-law calls in a former pupil of hers, Charlie Flint, to investigate the brides new lover, successful businesswoman Jay Stewart, who she is convinced is responsible for the murder and other killings in the past. Charlie has problems of her own, with her career in tatters and another woman tempting her from her own wife, but decides the investigation would be the perfect distraction from her troubles.
The book is well written and the way the story flows does draw you along with it but the plot feels like an ITV drama with extra lesbians thrown in. Charlie Flint is a likeable lead even though she is prone to adolescent behavior towards her love life - debating on wether she will cheat on on even leave her wife of 7 years does grate on you. The story is also interspersed with extracts from Jay's memoir as she's writing it giving her version of the backstory, which works well. As with other of Val's books the dialogue sometimes feels a little contrived with elements of poetry. This is also a primarily female lead story with virtually all of the protagonists being female , (and most of them being gay also), which is fine but make it hard for me to relate to any of the characters.
On balance I think I'm rating this book so low purely because of my disappointment. The Val McDermid books I love are the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan novels and most of her other standalone stories, which are filled will tension, suspense and most importantly threat which this book sorely lacks. It reminds me of the disappointment I felt on reading The Grave Tattoo another of McDermid's books which I felt was a misfire. Val McDermid is an excellent writer and the quality of her prose is alway eminently readable but in Trick Of The Dark as with The Grave Tattoo the story is not on par with most of her other work, (especially to fans of hard crime fiction like me). (less)