Sep 05, 11
Read in September, 2011
I found this latest installment in the Dalgliesh series rather cold and disjointed. James' usual skill at plotting is in evidence, but perhaps because I haven't read the two or three before this one, I found myself uninterested in the personal lives of most of the characters. The prose is always poetic in a particularly English reserved kind of way, but usually I find the people endearing, especially Adam and Kate. For some reason, in this book, I could not bring myself to care much what happened to their emotional lives.
The murder plot is laid out well, with a couple genuinely unexpected turns. (I was relieved, actually--there's a hint on the jacket flap of one of the twists that doesn't actually spoil anything. But I put it together with an off-hand comment early on that made me wonder if one of the old villains was going to come leaping out of the shadows three quarters of the way through, which would have pissed me off to no end. Fortunately, I was overthinking things and the twist was unexpected and entirely appropriate.)
I just never really cared about any of the suspects. Most of them were rather unsympathetic in one way or another. It's a perfectly well-written mystery, but I couldn't help but feel that it was missing that spark that makes you care emotionally about the fate of the characters instead of merely trying to solve the puzzle. As I've previously enjoyed many of James' novels, I was disappointed that this did not rise above the level of average.