Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Place of Execution (by Val McDermid)

This is the audiobook I picked up right after reading her nonfiction Forensics. I think it was partly due to the audiobook format, and partly due to my expectations, but I found this disappointing. It has gotten amazing reviews everywhere so I am in the minority here. I will explain my feelings anyway.  (This review is slightly spoilery so if you think you might like this book, go read it instead of my review.  Just not on audiobook.)

This is divided into two halves. The first half is a crime and its investigation, the second half is 30 years later, when a woman is writing the story of the crime and some new truths are uncovered. First of all, the pace of that first half is glacial. The audiobook thing meant that I couldn't skim, and I think if I'd been able to skim over the endless descriptions of people smoking, or the pages where nothing happens, I would have enjoyed this more. I also knew there was going to be some kind of twist in the second half, and I wanted to  get to the payoff at the end, so that was frustrating.

Plus, Forensics made me think McDermid was going to get in depth into the forensic details of the crime, but as much as the detectives are supposedly "investigating," the few forensic clues that there are kind of seem to be ignored and aren't ever put together in a satisfying way. (There is never a plausible timeline presented for the crime, for example.) It makes sense at the end, because if anyone had put the clues together or paid attention to the plot holes earlier they would have figured out the true story. But I was desperately wishing for an intelligent investigator to show up and do some, like investigating, instead of smoking a million cigarettes while waiting for something to happen.

Did I enjoy the twist at the end? I did think it was interesting, although it strained credulity at points.  I would call it more satisfying than not.  So I don't exactly not recommend this, I just recommend, once again, you avoid the audio version. (The narrator was great though, for what it's worth.)

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