Dorian's Reviews > The Night Ferry

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham
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M_50x66
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Aug 15, 07

Read in August, 2007

Robotham uses the increasingly popular technique of "cascading protagonists" (that is, a minor character in his first novel narrates the second; a minor character in that book narrates this, his third). (Simon Kernick has used this technique to especially good effect.) Personally, I'm fond of this idea--it expands the fictional world or landscape that the author is creating, and it casts some interesting lights back on the earlier works, by allowing us to identify fully with characters we understood differently, because more dimly, in earlier books.

But on the whole this book is a dud. Robotham tries for the first time to write in a woman's voice, and he has a hard time with it. Worse, this is one of those "issue mysteries" (in this case, human trafficking, as well as surrogacy). I've no problem with this per se--as I've written before, one of the things I like about crime fiction is its revitalization of literary realism, which has always been characterized by a desire to teach readers things about the world. But here the information we get about how humans are trafficked from "third" to "first" world, and the particular conscription of young women as surrogate mothers for implanted embryos, is earnestly but heavy-handedly dumped to us. (Policeman # 1: Is human trafficking really that big a problem? Expert: Yes, last year in the UK alone...)

Robotham strains here under the demand of the once-a-year novel. Maybe he can convince his publishers to let him take a bit more time with the next one.
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