A frustrating read

I hope I don’t sound patronising in what I’m about to say about a book I’ve read recently. I’m not going to give the title or author because I’m not trying to slag them I’m just commenting on how frustrating it is to read a book with glaring errors and problems for a reader, and yet there is something sufficiently interesting about it to read it until the end.

I’m a writer and I hope people don’t have that opinion of what I write, or if they do, I hope they might mention it so I can try harder next time! A cousin made a comment about one of my characters and I’ve tried to develop certain aspects to make him less irritating, but in a way which would be realistic – he has matured, he has a settled and happy relationship, he’s become a father, all things which I hope make the changes in him believable.

The characters in the book I’m thinking about are just not in the least real or realistic, it’s as if they have been observed on TV rather than in real life, Their conversation seems like a rather poor TV script not what you might actually hear. It’s as if the writer has a good idea for a story (yes the basics of the plots are ok, and did keep me reading to find out what happened) but didn’t properly think about characters. Clichées abound, older cop with sad background,  beautiful young side-kick with a cute turned up nose – really? Why is she referred to as a ‘girl’ – as are other women in the story? Come on!! This is 2020 not the 1970’s! Another character was described as being gay – because of his haircut. What a terrible and lazy stereotype! In fact the idea of the character was good, and gave an interesting twist to the story, but again it didn’t ring true and seemed eons out of date.

There is a whole chapter describing a family in great detail, all their background, what they’re wearing, how they speak, how they relate to each other, incidents which happen to them on an outing – they leap off the page and seem real compared to the main characters. The whole purpose of this chapter and the family is for them to discover the body and then they disappear and have no further part. It was so unbalanced! I don’t mean they should have been major players, but why did they have page after page of their holiday, when their only purpose was to discover the crime?

I kept groaning as I read it, and yet I kept reading it. It was full of lazy tropes and needed a really good edit and a big rewrite. Forget the young cop with the turned up nose, forget the  older cop with his unhappy backstory and classic car who lives on a boat, or the embittered other cop who would have been booted off any team in real life, please, please, please forget the prologue (why are they so fashionable at the moment? What purpose do they serve except to irritate?) I don’t think I’ll try another of the books ion the series – yes there is a series.

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