Book Review: Blood Line by Lynda La Plante
Posted on September 23rd, 2012
On Goodreads, I gave this book a whopping 1 star. Here’s my full review:
I’m not sure which of the following things is true.
1) I did not read an uncorrected proof, but instead read an uncorrected first draft;
2) I read an uncorrected proof, and there is an editor who should be deeply, deeply ashamed; or
3) I read an uncorrected proof, of which the first draft was so dreadful an editor managed to improve it to the version I read. If that’s the case, I would like to nominate the editor for sainthood, because I can’t imagine anything much worse than the book I just finished.
Allow me to start with what I liked.
1) Ciaran Hinds was mentioned in the Acknowledgements. I love Ciaran Hinds! He was the best Captain Wentworth ever!
2) …Nope, that’s all I’ve got.
As to the rest of it?
The book varies point of view so often I became seasick. We couldn’t stay in anyone’s head long enough to care about the character (although briefly I liked Detective Sergeant Simms), and the main character is so disagreeable I found myself hoping she’d be murdered during the course of the book or would overdose on the wine/sleeping pill concoction she downed to sleep a few times. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for her because in a previous work, her fiance had died.
Yeah. I didn’t. I’m guessing this is because interiority was abysmally written. Here’s an example (page 211 of the ARC):
“Get that bitch out! Get her out of here!” Tina screamed.
As Anna passed between the two women, Tina fell to her knees sobbing, with Donna trying to comfort her.
“Have they found him?” Felicity asked nervously.
“No. Excuse me.” Anna left hurriedly. She had considered arresting Tina for assault, but thought better of it as she had caused the aggression.
Did you miss it? If you blinked, you might have. It’s all telling and no showing. And that is pretty much how interiority works for every one of the viewpoint characters, which, at one time or another, encompasses everyone in the book, including the murder victim. And the janitor of the building the victim lived in.
The. Freaking. Janitor. No, it doesn’t serve the plot. That might be because the plot doesn’t really get going until around page 250, though.
I would like to give this book 1.5 stars, because I usually reserve one star ratings for books that are so bad I can’t finish them. But I can’t bring myself to round up to two. Not for the absurd number of POV errors. Not for continuity errors. Not for shifting viewpoints — sometimes from one paragraph to the next.
I used to wonder why it was I loved British police procedurals* — from the good (Morse) to the campy (Midsomer Murders) to the historical (Foyle’s War) — but never liked the Prime Suspect shows, even though I’m a Helen Mirren fan. Now I suspect it’s the fault of the source material.
All I can say is it must be nice to have a CBE and be paid to write like this. Just…wow.
*And hate American police/law shows? Yes. I think it’s because I can spot the American errors but remain blissfully ignorant of the goofs in the British shows.