Saturday, 1 December 2007

Not talking too much about a book to talk about

Well, I finished reading Pauline Rowson’s In Cold Daylight a week ago . . . since when I’ve been wrestling with something of a dilemma, which has resulted in a few days of the dreaded (for me, but probably a welcome relief for my hapless readers!) Blogger’s Block. How on earth does one review a crime novel without giving away the plot?

As I have lately confessed, I’m a relative newcomer to the world of crime fiction, so I’m not very well up on the conventions. Can one sensibly do any more than say ‘can’t say much about this one – you’d just better go and read it for yourself’? The risk of inadvertently inserting spoilers is huge, and should be avoided at all costs. It’s a pain in the neck at the best of times to read ‘reviews’ which simply offer a potted version of the entire plot - and goodness, so many do, especially in blog-land. I suppose it fills a space while saving people the bother of coming up with any interesting thoughts of their own. Unfortunately, it also saves readers the bother of finishing the book if the plot is the whole point of the novel. Which, of course, most especially in a mystery story, it very often is.

I checked out Martin Edwards’s blog and his crime-writing reviews on Tangled Web UK for guidance. How does the seasoned expert handle this thorny problem? I have concluded that the answer is most definitely along the lines of less is more. Whet the reader’s appetite, but say very little about the substance of the plot.

So here goes . . .

In In Cold Daylight, Pauline serves up a complicated plot which fair races along in true page-turning fashion, exploring en route some highly topical issues: environmental bio-hazards, heath and safety at work, and corruption in high places. It’s set on the English south coast – with the occasional foray up to London – and our ‘hero’, Adam Greene, is, at first, an unlikely one. Not a detective, but an artist – a quiet, self-effacing marine painter with a troubled past and a dysfunctional family, who finds himself compelled to investigate the death, in the line of duty, of a fire-fighter friend. As Adam delves ever deeper into the layers of mystery surrounding the death of his friend, his quest becomes not only a desperate race against time, but a personal journey of self-discovery.

OK, that’s your lot – if you want to know more, you’ll just have to go and buy the book!

As noted in a previous post , In Cold Daylight has been selected as one of the 100 titles in the World Book Day 2008 Books To Talk About competition. Do go and have a look at the terrific collection of titles the WBD panel have come up with.

The idea behind the long-list is to get book-groups and individual readers interested in a wide range of largely ‘undiscovered’ writers, with the aim of finding The Most Talked About Book of the Year. You can help create a buzz by leaving comments about your favourite book/s – and you’ll see that there is already a lot of enthusiastic praise for In Cold Daylight.

Pauline is married to a former fire-fighter and a true story was the inspiration behind the novel. If she wins the £5K prize money, Pauline’s going to donate it to the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund , so a vote for In Cold Daylight would be a step towards a great fund-raiser for this worthy cause – the bravery and commitment of fire-fighters having been brought to attention so terribly in the recent Warwickshire tragedy .

On a lighter note altogether, here’s a picture of Pauline suffering for her art in the arms of not one but FOUR hunky fire-fighters.

And look! They’re all reading In Cold Daylight! Would you believe it?

Life is – as I have oft observed – simply chock-full of the most amazing coincidences . . .


Pauline Rowson said...

Hi Juliet, glad to see you back. Thanks for the review of In Cold Daylight and for not giving away the plot! The World Book Day Spread The Word web site does rather do this, but I still think there's a lot left unsaid to tempt the reader. Must get some more photos of the boys!

monix said...

Your review is excellent, Juliet. I now want to read the book for myself.

60goingon16 said...

Yes, very wise not to reveal too much Juliet.

(Unlike those TV reviewers who tell you exactly what is going to happen in the forthcoming week's Corrie episodes! Oops, gave myself away there but we all need escapism in some form or another. My lovely builder, a burly Devonian aged 68, goes home to unwind with Home and Away.)