Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Review – Quintin JARDINE – “Aftershock”

Publ: 2008
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978 0 7553 2912 0
Genre: Crime fiction
Pages: 436p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** *

What led you to pick up this book?
The blurb. (Partially quoted below as part of the plot outline). In particular the setting – Edinburgh – which has become one of my favourite plot areas since McCall Smith came on the scene.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
“Until Sugar Dean is found dead on a local golf course, the police on Bob Skinnner’s patch re beginning to think they might be the victims of their own success. Serious crime seems to be be at an all-time low in Edinburgh... There’s something uncannily familiar about the murder, and it’s making Bob Skinner nervous. The body has been ‘laid out’ in exactly the same way as the corpses of three young women in a previous case – a case that was solved....”

This is the 18th Bob Skinner novel and in particular it follows on from a previous case. As a result one gets the feeling in the early stages that the author is trying a bit to hard to bring the new reader (i.e. me) up to speed.

What did you think of the characters?
Fairly credible as police officers and court systems of Scotland but as real people they lacked too much of the element of a poorer meaner side to their character. Goodies were good and baddies were bad and apparently never the twain would meet whereas real folk are rarely that simple.

What did you think about the style?
With the exceptions mentioned elsewhere the style was good and easily read. Nothing to strain the brain but the use of Scots terms was cleverly done – not too much and not too little.

What did you like most about the book?
The intricacies of the plot and the fact that the likelihood of guessing for certain who the killer might be – out of a range of options – was remote.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?
It’s always a difficult balance for an author of a series as to how much detail from previous books he puts in and how he does it. Some make a better job of it than others and this is certainly one of the poorer aspects of ‘Aftershock’.
The introduction of a new English officer seemed at first to be a clever way of outlining some of the differences between the English and Scottish legal systems but at times it presumed too little knowledge on the part of the English officer who would certainly have understood the basics.

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
A rather good photo though the relevance to the story rather escaped me.

Would I recommend it?
Not in isolation. Perhaps if I had started the Bob Skinner novels at the beginning I would have been more enamoured.


“You’re beginning to show signs of DUOA syndrome.”
“.... and, by the way, what’s DUOA syndrome?”
“Disappearing Up Own Arse. You’re going round in ever-decreasing circles.”

QUINTIN JARDINE (aka Matthew Reid) was born in Scotland. and now lives, “as quietly as his nature will allow”, alternately in Scotland and Spain. Formerly a spin doctor, Quintin Jardine turned to writing crime fiction. He is the author of a sereies of Oz Blackstone mysteries and Bob Skinner crime novels. His interests are "playing football, watching football, talking about football and watching golf".

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