Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Butcher's Hill by Laura Lippman

*Some Spoilers Below*

This was a pretty good mystery, marred by a hasty ending. But after reading that dreadful Patricia Cornwell book a week or so ago, this was just the palate cleanser I needed for that genre.

I wasn't expecting too much when I opened it, and I've never read any Laura Lippman before, but from the beginning, the characters were interesting, the mysteries engaging, and the book moved quickly from scene to scene.

The theme of the book centers around children who go into the system - the detective, Tess Monaghan, is hired by one client to find the daughter she gave up for adoption, while the other client went to jail for shooting and killing a boy who was in foster care. This character, Luther Beale, claims he wants to try to make some kind of peace with the other children who were present the night Donnie Moore was shot. Tess believes him. And then those children start to turn up dead.

The problem I did have with the book is that the epilogue is far too rushed. I have this theory, that I just came up with, that an epilogue can add one major piece of information per character. More, and you needed another chapter earlier to relay one of those pieces of information or to foreshadow it, or something. But in the epilogue, too much comes out, it's all too fast, and I wasn't given time to process any of it.






For example: *Major Spoilers*

Okay, Jackie did decide to be in contact with her daughter, fine.

But wait, the entire Monaghan family had welcomed her into the fold after they found out she had had a child at sixteen by the patriarch of the family? (It's not that this couldn't happen, it just can't happen off the page and be convincing.)

And she is in the process of adopting the infant and orphaned sister of Donnie Moore?

And is something going on between her and the cop?

Some of this needed foreshadowing.

And so we find out Donnie Moore's foster parents were gaming the system for money. Fine.

But they were also gun running?

And acting as Fagin, sending out their foster children to steal for them?


It's too much of an infodump, and some of it really needed to be in the main narrative, or hinted at in the main narrative. As it stands, the book downloads all that and more, in the last 5 pages. These are important enough developments to be part of the denouement, not the epilogue.

While this wasn't the greatest mystery in the world, it was solid. Lippman doesn't have the style of the truly great mystery writers, but I enjoyed Butchers Hill, and will probably read more of her books.

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