Saturday, October 06, 2007

No Thrill in this Thriller

As part of my resolution to read more books from different genres, I got a book out of the library based on an ad in the NYTimes Book Review section. The back cover quotes call the author "one of Britain's finest thriller writers."

While there is a mystery and some dead bodies, I'm just not feeling the thrill, or the suspense. I personally find the pace slow, and that's without a couple of major pace-killing distractions.

The characters all have nicknames, which means not only must I remember their real names, I have to remember their nicknames. Unfortunately, I'm not sitting down for a leisurely afternoon's read -- I read when I can grab some time during the day or evening. That means I keep forgetting what nickname applies to what character. That takes me out of the story. A lot.

The characters keep referring to each other by name during conversations, even if there are only two people involved. "So, what do you think, Sammy?" "I don't know, Davie." That feels false to me, so it, too, pulls me out of the story.

Then there's the setting. It's very, very English. The writer's English, so I shouldn't really be quibbling. It's just that with some writers, I know I'm in England without feeling like a fish out of water. The references are enough to give me a sense of place, but not so much I'm distracted by the differences. Sadly, not this time.

These things are cumulatively enough for me to give up.

There was one other thing that struck me about this book, and it had nothing to do with the text. There is absolutely no information about the author on the book jacket. No bio, no picture, nothing. No doubt I noticed this because a day doesn't go by that I don't worry I'm not doing enough PR, whether it's on the internet or elsewhere. Authors seem to be so pressured to promote themselves. But this guy? He doesn't even have a bio on the jacket, let alone a website. I confess part of me thinks, "Good for you!" Another part thinks, "I wonder what his background is?" So I googled him. Somebody did a Wikipedia entry for him, so I found out a few interesting things.

I'm still not going to finish the book, though. I have a pile of books by my bed, so it's on to the next one.


Michelle Styles said...

I trying to think who it is. And I can't really think of a newish English MALE thriller writer. There are plently like Ken Follet or John Le Carre who have been around awhile. I can think of several females ones like Minette Walters or Martina Cole. But this is probably me.
The biggest thiller/mystery writers seem to be Scottish at the moment -- Ian Rankin or Alexander McCall Smith. Ian just did his last Rebus novel (or is it his last?) Or maybe it is more a reflect of what my dh and son are reading as they tend towards the thillers. My dh is currently really enjoying Micheal Dibdin who recently died and who used Italy as a backdrop to his murder mysteries.

Anonymous said...


Can I ask you a question about that promotion of authors? I have a new agent, and he's rather unhappy that I don't have my own website and blog and that I would rather live anonymously somewhat (no pics on jackets, no booksignings).

It may be the straw that breaks the new camel's back. I admire that you blog most days, but I'm not sure I have anything interesting to say most days, for starters, and how effective is a blog anyway? And, until I have a book cover, what is the point of a website? (I know his answers, I'm curious for yours.)

And, having been a successful writer for a period of years, did you notice a big change in profile and sales once you had a website and/or blog? Is it just a way to have a closer pulse on your fans?

My apologies if you have really answered these before and I've missed the entries. Really, I do have four kids under 10, and most days, I'm happy if everyone is fed and dressed and have to let little things like checking your blog go. I manage about three days out of the week, and regardless of having something I want to comment on, diapers and bottles and broken toys and hurt feelings prevent most of them making it here.

Now I find that I am incoming president for my local RWA, and I wonder when I will write!


Margaret Moore said...

Michelle, if you're really curious, send me an email and I'll tell. :-)