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