I’ve decided to go back and re-read the initial offering in some of my favourite mystery/thrillers to see if what attracted me still does.
There is no denying the skill, but I’m currently in the mood for Downing and Furst’s “little man” style.
This one has the scaffolding of the long-running series, but is a bit off-footed in tone and writing, leaving huge holes in Intelligence operational details and the forward-story of the books to come.
What struck me most — negatively; it is jarringly disturbing — is how often cavalierly Silva puts his female characters into situations where they spit out, used and often killed simply to gain inches or points in “the game.” Worse, how willingly they are complicit in the abuse.
I can see how this would happen occasionally in real life, but it seems it is one of the most common, enduring scenarios in the entire series.
When you’ve been as prolific and acclaimed as Silva has been, it’s almost inevitable that sooner or later you’ll start to get sloppy, to slip. As Yeats said, “Things falls apart, the centre cannot hold.”
For me, it shows in the absence of tightness in the writing. The middle of the book is still highly crafted, but the beginning and end sees dense block of exposition, meaning too much telling, not enough showing, as I believe judicious dialogue provides.
Worse, it is too similar in plot to Silva’s previous offerings. Change a few names and details and you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from several of his most recent novels.
Not Silva’s best, but still very good. Your mileage may vary.