I picked this up because the title was evocative of PD James and Agatha Christie, although I hadn t heard of the author As the book unfolded I kept waiting for the plot reversals which define the best works in this genre and waited right up until the very end So this wasn t really a murder mystery after all There is a murder, but it is part of the story s landscape There is a missing person, who becomes a plot device, a means to an end, but not really a character This is essentially a few weeks in the life of the narrator, where a few things happen, some choices are made, some good, a few not very good, and the psychological impact afterwards There is a subplot unrelated to the murders which offers to illuminate the workings of the protagonist s soul and it would have worked but it expected too much by way of assumption on the part of the reader The story ends without the two threads resolving together, almost as if the author forgot she put it there This chopped a star from my review and left me wishing I hadn t spent the time reading it in the first place Not quite regret, but close enough to mention With all that out of the way, what drew me to the book aside from the title is the uniquely English style of writing The word choices are different, the phrasing is different, the sense of humor is outstanding There is a quote within the novel from Raymond Chandler that observes that while the Brits may not be the most outstanding writers, they are still outstanding writers my paraphrase It is true while I can pick apart the failings of the plot, the overall execution was sound, there were a couple of funny moments, and I found myself reaching for the OED once For a novel to spring a new word on me happens rarely these days and is enjoyed greatly took me all the way back to grade school memories from decades ago I read this book in one sitting, and overall enjoyed it, even if it ended with a whimper instead of a bang A dark little tale presented as a murder mystery in the English countryside, but really it is less about the murders and about the darkness in ordinary people s lives Everyone seems to have the potential for malice and violence, whether they know it or not Doughty creates great discomfort by small means The image of the sleepwalking Alison, as observed by her elderly neighbour, with pure evil in her eyes, is particularly chilling A nightmarish murder in her own family history is never resolved A game of Cluedo shows the cruelty and viciousness of a seemingly normal family This is a far cry from a cosy Miss Marplish whodunnit, and much better. Back of the book blurbs refer to this book as darkly comic, but the comic aspect eluded me as did the relevance of the title.While this is in the murder mystery genre, it becomes clear who done it early in the book Instead, the real focus is on the family of the couple killed, the next door neighbour and reporter Alison ,and a few other characters The book is engaging in its compelling look at families, at moral dilemmas, and at the potential evil that lurks in all of us The book is a quick and easy read at 173 pages, but I found myself wanting depth It was a good read, but not totally satisfying JA Honey Dew Anything can happen behind closed doors But nothing does.In an article, the author states that her novels are entirely plot driven but that is not true for this story There is almost no plot to speak of, we spend so much time getting to know the characters that by the time we get around to the plot, it has already reached it s climax and the story is over.All of the characters seem to think they are the most special important person, too big for the small village life they are subjected to, yet I found each of them equally unlikeable The main character despises the big city reporter who comes in to steal her story, goes up to his room not feeling too happy about it, then is disappointed to the point of anger when he doesn t want to sleep with her I couldn t help but find the subplot about a woman writing a murder mystery novel in this murder mystery novel a bit on the nose.The book is not badly written, the prose is well thought out and it reads nicely with no clunky passages, but it s just really dull Nothing happens and nobody learns anything.I wouldn t recommend this book to anyone, it s not a good murder mystery, it s not a good drama, it s not a good romance, it s just not good. An easy read but intelligent too Loved it. I picked up this book for 2 reasons the first was the fact that I enjoyed the TV adaptation of the authors book Apple Tree Yard and the second was it was on offer.I d like to say I enjoyed it but although it s not a bad book I felt it was missing something such as a plot reversal or a twist of some sort Neither of these take place, so it s basically a catalogue of events that take place after a double murder in a sleepy English village.An opportunity missed in my opinion. This is a relatively quick read about 3 hours I really like Louise Doughty s books ever since I read Apple Tree Yard several years ago This is one of her earlier stories and I enjoyed reading it The story centres on the murders of Mr and Mrs Cowper and the search for their killer I really liked the setting which is Rutland an area I know quite well so I could easily picture the locations The story is mostly told through the eyes of Alison Akenside, a local journalist and neighbour of the Cowpers The story unfolded really well and I really liked the touches of humour that I suppose is one of LD s trademarks The characters were good I particularly liked Miss Crabbe and like her, I much prefer Dorothy L Sayers to Agatha Crispy as the character preferred to call her There is one section told from the point of view of Alison s mother, Joyce and we learn why there is little love lost between her and her children, specifically Alison s older brother Andrew We find out how their younger brother James died and to say that Joyce has religious fervour is probably an understatement Another section is from Edith Cowper s p o v and whilst it was good to understand the family dynamics this section somewhat implausibly describes her own death I appreciate this is artistic licence but personally I m not keen on this technique Towards the end of the story the reader questions actions that Alison takes and certainly she has to live with what she did Overall, a good and enjoyable read. I struggled between giving this 1 or 2 stars It was just barely OK enough to get two stars and it gets that only because I was actually able to read the whole thing I found that it seemed disjointed Yes the story uses flashbacks but even during parts that weren t flashbacks it seemed disjointed And some of the flashbacks droned on and on And did we really need THREE pages of the novel that Miss Crabbe was writing, which had nothing to do with this story at all I m not even sure why Miss Crabbe was in the story at all Sometimes there is just TOO MUCH INFORMATION The back cover says Alison searches for inside information on the murder, hoping to sell a story to a national newspaper Not really, she was trying to find ways to write copy from the already available but mostly irrelevant info until later in the story someone drops a gem into her lap that she has no idea how to use And the back cover also says And soon Alison, like the rest of Nether Bowston, will discover what really went on behind the tightly drawn curtains of the Cowper home and find out if Gemma is the victim of a madmanor something much worse Well, by page 46 you will have the answer to that one Then there was just too much droning between there and when you actually find out what happened to Gemma, and that was not really a surprise either I won t be looking for by this author. When The Bodies Of The Cowpers, A Reclusive Middle Aged Couple, Are Discovered Brutally Slaughtered And Their Teenage Daughter Goes Missing The Tiny Village Of Nether Bowston Reels In Shock And As The Townspeople Mull Over The First Murder In A Century, Everyone Is Asking The Same Question Where Is Gemma Cowper Just Down The Road From The Murder Scene, Alison Akenside Divides Her Time Between Cultivating Her Roses And Reporting For The Rutland Record Like Gemma, Alison Grew Up In The Village And Knows What It S Like For A Young Girl Whose Dreams Are Far Grander Than Her Prospects Alison Searches For Inside Information On The Murder, Hoping Finally To Sell A Story To A National Newspaper But As The Case Leads Her Into The Darkest Corners Of This Bucolic Town, She Realizes That Not Everything Is What It Seems And Soon Alison, Like The Rest Of Nether Bowston, Will Discover What Really Went On Behind The Tightly Drawn Curtains Of The Cowper Home And Find Out If Gemma Is The Victim Of A Madman Or Something Much Worse The book was interesting and the story moved along quickly The plot was pretty well developed but the characters, in my opinion, were not developed enough There was a lot of hints about the past with portents of how it was going to impact the the future but it didn t clearly materialize None of the characters were particularly likable given what the reader learns about them I feel a bit let down with the behavior of the main character, Alison Her actions just don t make sense I would like to read another book by this author and see how it compares.
Louise Doughty is a novelist, playwright and critic She is the author of five novels CRAZY PAVING, DANCE WITH ME, HONEY DEW, FIRES IN THE DARK and STONE CRADLE, and one work of non fiction A NOVEL IN A YEAR She has also written five plays for radio She has worked widely as a critic and broadcaster in the UK, where she lives, and was a judge for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction.
- 240 pages
- Louise Doughty
- 09 July 2019 Louise Doughty