I think I found out about this in the Million’s website, it was on some list, I believe. I wrote it down on my wishlist but never thought I’d actually find it. Then, this summer, when I had a layover in Brussels, I snooped around their bookstore and thought really hard whether to buy this, or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet ooooor The Passage. This was the cheaper of the three, and still not very cheap (18€ for paperback!), and the Scrooge in me made the choice.
Maybe I’m not very used to reading larger mystery novels, but this felt like it just moved at an unbearably slow pace. I mean, really, really slow. It was like there were never any developments or twists, and when they did happen, I could already see them coming a mile away. Maybe I’m just used to Sherlock Holmes short stories where everything is so fast that the case is solved before I even realise it and then I’m severely blown-away.
But it’s not like I didn’t enjoy reading this. I did, a lot. French’s primary focus isn’t the case itself, it’s Frank’s relationship with his family and his daughter. It’s very nice to be able to witness how he made it out of an abusive household and was able to raise a nice, cute kid. However, there are quite a few inconsistencies with his character: at some stage in the book he claims he’d never hurt a woman, but then proceeds to bully a woman just so he can get a tiny little lead. Plus, some scenes were very graphic, and I’m not usually squeamish, but violence against women, and kids and family in general was just horrible.
Stylistically, the novel is quite unlike anything I’ve read. I’d never read a book with Irish characters, so the slang and their imaginary accent in my head were quite fun. The first-person narrator? Not so much fun; it’s well done, but it’s just a pet peeve of mine. Also, too many flashbacks. Seriously, it’s starting to look as if I didn’t enjoy this. I did! I promise! I read it everyday! And in the bus! It’s engaging! There’s just a lot in it that bothered me. It’s it, it’s me, I’m a walking contradiction.
All-in-all, a nice book to read in rainy days, but too long and all over the place.