When I received Pain of Death I briefly toyed with the idea of getting the other books in the series first as I really don’t like reading books out of order. Boy, am I ever glad I didn’t! It isn’t often that I make myself finish a book & this was one of those rare occasions where I did, only finishing because I felt I had to, with it being a LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s copy…
From the back of the book: “Kerry Degg, burlesque singer, is discovered beneath the London streets, barely alive. DC Josie Chancellor finds an abandoned newborn baby by Leadengate station. Staffe puts Kerry and baby together. His investigation draws a picture of a bad wife and mother with rotten friends, a dangerous husband and no idea about family life. But it is only when another woman like Kerry is discovered, seemingly dragged to bear her child in captivity, that Staffe realises he has stumbled across something terrible beneath the streets of London. Staffe must venture from Whitehall’s clubland to Soho’s fleshpots, trying to make his way through a labyrinth of trails on a desperate mission to rescue mother and child in time…”
All through reading this book I wanted to chuck it in the bin, it was that horrible. I hated the author’s style of writing (present tense is awful) & his choice of phraseology just grated on my nerves. One of the more memorable ones was: “Trousered” in reference to his mobile phone – so what, he went to Carphone Warehouse, bought an itty-bitty pair of trousers & put them on his phone? No, the author meant that DI Staffe put his phone in his trousers pocket. Creed used that one a few times & I just wanted to scream every single time I was forced to read it!
The sentence structure was dire, with the average sentence being about 6-8 words in length & the dialogue was wooden, forced & simplistic, with little to no flow. For example: “They’re driving in. My team is holding back. There’s no track beyond the tower. There’s no way out of there.” – that could easily have been 1 or 2 sentences that would have flowed much better & would have read like a real conversation that real people have.
There were also quite a few instances where I would have to re-read several passages a couple of times, just to figure out what had really happened, what was I missing. I think in part this was because (or at least I really hope it was because of) it being an uncorrected proof. For example, at one point I was reading about DI Staffe interviewing one of the early suspects, Lesley Crawford, in her home, with her lawyer. Staffe’s mobile rings & he sees that it is Josie (one of the other police officers), who is calling to tell him that the victim of the crime has been taken into surgery 20 minutes ago. Staffe is clearly still at Crawford’s house, but then as if by magic, without a break in the book, he is standing outside the theatre watching the surgeons operate. I mean by that, that this happened all in the space of a sentence, and there was not the usual gap that appears on the page when there is going to be a change of scene, so that the reader doesn’t get confused. This happened a lot. All of a sudden in the span of a sentence the characters were in different locations, or were no longer even there (as in we had moved onto another situation with another character) & there was no break to differentiate the 2 different situations/scenarios, which made it all the harder to read.
All-in-all, I thought that this was a very bad example of what the crime genre has to offer & I struggle to understand how this piece of unbelievably bad writing has been published.