Jon's Reviews > Stone's Fall
by Iain Pears
by Iain Pears
Jul 02, 2009
This is a very long novel (I'd guess nearly 300,000 words), and as the official blurb says, it is ingenious and intricately plotted. But I think it could have been just as ingenious and intricate at about half the length. I was hoping it would be as good as An Instance of the Fingerpost, but I was disappointed. Like that one, it is divided into sections, each with a different narrator; but in this case, the narrators all sound pretty much alike, and none of them is particularly engaging. In fact, there are no characters with which I could either sympathize or identify. Everything seems cold and calculated. Central to the book is a mysterious and alluring woman, but anyone who has read My Cousin Rachel will have seen mysterious and alluring done much more convincingly. Writing the novel backwards (with each section narrating events that occurred before what we have already seen) must have been excruciatingly difficult, and it's amazing that Pears pulls it off so successfully. At times the strain shows, though, as in a very late scene which is contrived to be tense (major characters trapped in a basement with a madman, tons of explosive, and the madman about to light the fuse), but we already know that three of the four characters will still be alive years from now. In spite of it's overall organization, the novel meanders, and the thread of suspense is often lost in massive amounts of detail. An excellent puzzle, but once the puzzle is solved in the final pages, you can set the book aside and forget it. There are no memorable experiences here.
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