No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, July 05, 2012

2012/29: Cradle Song -- Robert Edric

... nothing was ever wasted, however incidental or inconsequential it might at first appear. The important clues were never big or obvious: you were never going to be pointed towards them by people who didn't want you to see them. A thing you discovered for yourself, however small, and however quickly you might afterwards disregard it, was always something worth discovering. Something you were told or pointed towards was just another line in a maze. (p. 94)

Private detective Leo Rivers, whose old boss John Maxwell has recently retired, is employed by a wealthy businessman to re-investigate the murder of the man's teenaged daughter Nicola. (Several other girls were killed or went missing around the same time.) Two mysterious figures, Smart and Finch, are interested in Rivers too: they want him to stir the situation up in a way that Maxwell would never have done. Thing is, Nicola's murder isn't exactly an unsolved case. DCI Sullivan (retired) is still proud of having caught and imprisoned the man he believes responsible -- photographer Martin Roper, languishing in prison, who's indicated that he's prepared to finally tell the truth about what really happened to the teenage girls he photographed and filmed.

It's not a pleasant story: quite aside from that, I didn't find it an enjoyable read. I didn't engage with Rivers, had no sense of him as a person despite (because of) his first-person narration. He lives for his work, and doesn't seem to have anyone or anything that he cares about. We're told that two of the other characters are his friends, but one of them double-crosses him and the other seems to have quite a different agenda. Rivers doesn't seem to notice anything around him, unless it's pertinent to the case. There's no evidence that he's emotionally involved with the case or with his client: he's always playing games, explaining what he hopes an apparently-random remark will achieve, making guesses. And there's an undercurrent of misogyny that reminds me of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original title 'The Men Who Hate Women'). The women in this novel (except three teenage girls in a scene-setting prologue) are victims, liars or sexual predators.

The whole novel feels like an exercise in restraint. There's some fine writing, and the bleakness matches the setting (north-east coast of England) very nicely. But I found little to like, and I doubt I'll read more of Edric's crime fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment