Sunday, May 10, 2009

"I like pie!"

Will someone PLEASE tell me what the fuss about this little book is?
It won some serious awards (2007 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, as well as being one of Amazon's and Powell's top books of 2009), and the word of mouth is creeping slowly around the Internet. (Should the enthusiastic endorsement of Ian Sampson, author of another tiresome detective novel, have warned me off? Perhaps.)

In fact, if you are one of the bloggers I read who have mentioned this book but still haven’t read it, you might want to leave now (and please come back another day) because this post may sorely disappoint you - there’s almost nothing that disappoints me more than reading a meh review of a book I have long anticipated.

OK, in its corner:
Flavia, the 11-year-old protagonist? Charming and funny and quirky.
Um, also in its corner – I got a kick out of the way the policemen in the book cope with Flavia.
The chemistry bits are very well done, and Flavia's passion for poison is entertaining at the very least.

But I am afraid mostly I have cons:
The mystery was at times unfollowable and also wildly disjointed and unlikely.
The plot was weirdly similar – especially the denouement – to something else I have read, but I can’t put my finger on which book.
The criminals were one-dimensional.
As were most of the supporting players.
And also its main character, charming as she may be (although some of her one-dimensionality is due to the rest of the book's lack of detail).
Even the lovely intrigue of the title did not live up to its potential.

I kept waiting for this book to start. And I like quiet mysteries - they don't all have to be nail-biting psychological thrillers - Josephine Tey's old-fashioned English mysteries are some of my favorite bookks in life. But this just felt - unfinished.

Sweetness reminded me of the first Maisie Dobbbs – I got through it because it was pleasant enough, (and fortunately for Maisie, it did build up to some other fine books) but it read like a YA novel. It was very – surface. Everything in the book – plot, characterization, back story – all very superficially expository. I suppose the author (is some of the fuss because he's a first-time author at age 70?) will reveal more as the series goes along, but I am pretty sure I don't care.

I was so disappointed.

*Primo's latest catchphrase


delta said...

A new Sara Waters book is out! The Little Stranger. It is a ghost story set in post WWII Britain. I LOVE Sarah Waters!!!

Also, have you heard any of the buzz about this new book Little Bee? Am sort of curious about it.

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Badger said...

Well, I've never heard of it. So I'll give it a pass unless it shows up on 2-for-1 day at the $1 library sale.

Just finished Promise Not To Tell, which was a nailbiter. Now reading Into The Wild. AND NOT ALLOWED TO BUY ANY MORE BOOKS until I've whittled down my stack(s) a bit. Oy.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day! I hope Flat Edward gets you something nice.

Elizabeth said...

Waiting for my copy of this one.
Oh well. I'll give it a try when I get it.

Pretty Things said...

I never heard of it, but I probably would have bought it just for the title alone (mmmm, pie....) so thanks for the head's uup!

blackbird said...

Nice cover though.

Loretta said...

thanks - so I will not press "buy" on this one.

The Sarah Waters ghost story - just got it!

Finished The Children's Book yesterday. Hurry up so we can talk amongst ourselves!

Penni Russon said...

"it read like a YA novel. It was very – surface. Everything in the book – plot, characterization, back story – all very superficially expository"


BabelBabe said...

Hmmm. Perhaps I SHOULD have said, "Its lack of in-depth characterization and improbably plot twists reminds me of nothing so much as Magic Treehouse books, which, being written for 5-8 year olds, are necessarily much simpler than what I prefer to read."

Forgive me, Penni. How about, It was more Sweet Valley High than How I Live Now.

Kathy said...

I often buy things because I love the title and I love this title so I've almost bought it about 4 times. Maybe, if I feel the need to read it, I will check it out of the library.