I had one big concern that initially kept me away from this book: what if this was one of those Highbrow Crime Books, where the murder or kidnapping or whatever is really just a MacGuffin that only serves to causes a lot of lengthy inner monologues and well-phrased intellectual reflections on the characters’ family issues or whatever? What if this is one of those books where the crime isn’t actually the point of the story, and at the end we’re never given a satisfying solution to the original mystery, because “the mystery was not the point.” This has happened twice to me, first with Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend (where apparently the mystery of who killed a ten-year-old boy, the mystery that starts the story, “is not the point” because that makes sense) and more recently with Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (where the disappearance of two women is actually just an excuse for two men to hash out their personal issues), and I was wary. There were many red flags in the plot description, which goes like this: on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne’s wife Amy vanishes from their home without a trace. Nick is the prime suspect in her disappearance, and as the investigation continues, more details surface about Nick, Amy, and the true state of their marriage.
Monthly Archives: March 2013
This book has a fun setup, from a mystery aspect: in a small artist’s community in Scotland, a man named Campbell is found dead at the base of a cliff, having apparently fallen to his death. But it wasn’t an accident, obviously, and soon the local police, aided by his wonderfulness Lord Peter Wimsey, are on the case. There are some complications: Campbell has multiple enemies in the town, the six most likely suspects all have alibis for the time of death, and although Campbell was killed sometime on Monday night, multiple witnesses saw him painting on the cliff the next day.
This was my second Aubrey/Maturin book, and I chose it because this was how the plot description went: “Commissioned to rescue Governor Bligh of Bounty fame, Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and surgeon Stephen Maturin sail the Leopard to Australia with a hold full of convicts. Among them is a beautiful and dangerous spy – and a treacherous disease that decimates the crew.”
Holy shit, look at all that stuff! Mutineers! Sexy lady spies! Plagues! What isn’t to like here?