I’ve just finished a book I enjoyed and found really gripping – reading outside my normal book time because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. As ever with a book I’ve enjoyed, on reflection I find things in it which are examples to me of how to write better. For example, once again descriptions of place – not just scenery and settings – in this case the beach, but a couple of sentences, or phrases painting in the street a character walked down, a hotel he entered, a hospital ward, a deserted building. I focus too much on action and feelings, I need to give a reader the backdrop to the action and an atmosphere to intensify feelings.
In this book, though, there were also a couple of things which I thought were slightly disappointing, and therefore a different sort of example for me! There were too many names introduced in the opening chapters set twenty years before the main action of the plot took place. I kept having to check back as to who was the father, who was the brother, and whether a female name belonged to the love interest, a former partner, or former colleague. which of the former colleagues had been friends, which had been enemies, which had been people we never actually ‘meet’ because they were involved in an off-page incident. Maybe it’s me, maybe I read too quickly, but I just couldn’t keep the names attached to the right person!
There was a particular older character who the protagonist had known since he was a child, and almost as soon as he was mentioned, it was as if there was a giant illuminated arrow pointing at him saying BADDIE! Another character had a similar imaginary sign saying RED HERRING!! It was a good plot, though, it was pacey, and as I mentioned, gripping! However I began to feel there were just too many words – and this is something I know I’m guilty of as a writer, sometimes as my poet friend Macaque keeps telling me, less is so much more!
And finally, the finale. Loose ends were being tied up, the puzzle was being unpicked, the action was rising to a crescendo of a shoot-out in a darkened house as the main character exhausted and soaked in blood, got the better of the baddie, no longer an unknown (but as I mentioned, I’d realised from the first time he swam onto the page that he was likely to be the rotten apple in the barrel) There was enough time for confessions to be made, betrayals revealed, resolutions made, before the bad guy got his just deserts.
This was not the last chapter – this was the false ending, because as the hero staggered out, we realised that the dead man was not the only baddie! More action, a comic element, and a finale – the real one this time, end of chapter. I turned to the next page for what I knew would be the last chapter – not necessary from a plot point of view, but necessary for the reader to come down, to unwind, to reflect – a summation, a breather before closing the book. But there wasn’t one! That was it! One dead baddie, one arrested, the end! It was too quick – readers want to unwind from a story they have really enjoyed, but unwind in the book, not once they have closed it.
I enjoyed this book, yes, I did, but there were those few things which detracted from it! Fussy reader? Yes, that’s me!