I used to be the sort of reader who once I started a book, I ploughed through it no matter how dreadful or how boring. Maybe it was from a time when there were fewer books and each one, no matter how dire was somehow precious. I’m afraid that now I do give up on books, even with my book club where there is an understanding that the chosen volume should be finished, sometimes, I confess I surrender and abandon it. There are so many wonderful and brilliant books to be read, so many decent enough though maybe not so brilliant books out there which will entertain, that I can’t help but think I should be reading them not the duff tale I’m attempting to plough through. I have even, on occasion, given up after just a few pages and that is nearly always because it is so badly or carelessly written that I feel as if the writer has made little effort, or the editors have abandoned them. I don’t give up easily or lightly – even with books which seem doomed in those first thousandth or so words I will look further into it, peep a few pages or chapters further on to see if there is any improvement.
A couple of days ago I started a book which had been recommended, in my favourite genre, police procedurals. It was ok, there was nothing terrible or ghastly, but it did seem somehow awkwardly written, it didn’t really flow, there were little descriptive phrases tacked on almost awkwardly, and I became a little confused between the characters. However there was something about it which kept me going, and I knew that even if it continued in this rather tentative way, I would read it to the end. About halfway through, I realised that things had changed; the writer had got into her swing and I was enjoying it and wanted to know what happened. It still seemed confusing at times, too many details and names, I wasn’t always sure where I was, but it kept me gripped. As I neared the end it had developed a cracking pace, and I stayed up later than I should have to finish it and when I had, I got the next in the series.
Was I disappointed in the second book? No, not at all, in fact, all the things which had niggled in the first book had been smoothed away and from the start I was hooked. There were interesting back stories about the main characters woven in, there was plenty of action, but the settings were vividly described, and there was tension in terms of plot and in the relationships of the detectives and other officers to each other and to the ‘civilian’ characters. I finished it at about 3 this morning, and have now bought the next in the series – I am one of those readers who has to read a series once I’ve enjoyed the first one.
The author is a Scottish writer, Marion Todd and the books are set around St Andrews, the famous university town on the east coast of Fife. The main character is Detective Inspector Clare MacKay, and even in the first book where I had reservations about it, I didn’t have any difficulty in believing in her right from the beginning,, or any of the other characters who were realistic and plausible (including Benji the dog) The first book is ‘See Them Run’, and the other three are ‘In Plain Sight’, ‘Lies to Tell’ and ‘What They Knew’. I shall be sorry when I have read all of them, and will just hope Marion has more in the pipeline!