John's Reviews > Rose

Rose by Martin Cruz Smith
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's review
Jan 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery-detective-fiction, historical-fiction, thriller

Usually I don't like novels where the plot is so incidental to the story, but Rose manages to be a happy exception. Superficially, it's a mystery novel, but, if mystery is all you're reading it for, you are headed for severe disappointment. Like he did with Gorky Park years before, Martin Cruz Smith employs Rose's unique setting as an engine for propelling the narrative forward, and I eventually became so enthralled by the descriptions of life in a coal mining town that I almost stopped caring whether the mystery (a missing persons case) ever got resolved or not. That's pretty high praise, considering I generally find mining to be about as engaging a subject as pinochle or bat droppings. Cruz is one of those authors, however, who can wring torrents of drama out of even the driest of topics. And he does his homework, too; writing so convincingly that you really begin to feel the claustrophobic effects of the mining tunnels set in, and can almost taste the methane in the air. I can't say I liked Rose as much as the Arkady Renko series, but I do think that Rose's main character, Jonathan Blair, surpasses Renko as a memorable detective. I would really like to see Cruz bring him back again sometime... Unfortunately, the blurb on the back of the book does a major disservice to readers by making Rose sound like some kind of Harlequin romance, when it actually does a great job of appealing to both sexes indiscriminatingly. Or so it seemed to me, at least. It's a little bit sexy and a whole lot violent...but only recommended for people who don't mind plots that advance at a crawl.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Russell (new)

Russell I very much enjoyed Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko novels, and thought I would try reading something else from Mr. Smith, something not of the spy genre, and came upon Rose.
I was hesitant to buy the book, but your review here has spurred me to make the purchase and to give it a try.
Again, thank you.

John I just came across your message... And now I'm really curious as to what you thought of the book! Overall, did you enjoy it?

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