Genesis by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I found this in a bin at the village hall. Seeing books in the bin offends me, so I rescued it. Anyway, I like a bit of Rankin, so why not try another crime writer?
The best I can say is it's alright, but it's not really a crime novel. It's soap opera with a bit of crime in the background as a device to connect a group of characters who seem to be the author's main preoccupation. Slaughter seems obsessed with the minutiae of her characters' lives, and the story very much takes a back seat. A third of the way through the novel we've found out almost nothing about the crime or the investigation, but we know the characters inside out without ever finding out why we're supposed to care.
Slaughter is very mush of the 'show-don't-tell' school of novel writing, where everything is explained instead of coming out through the storytelling. She lacks James Patterson's clunky dialogue, but her plotting is much more rambling.
Perhaps that's why I found it a very feminine novel. Male crime writers tend to like taut thrillers rather than the rambling, over-written, easy-reading on offer here. Men like five-minute showers; women like to luxuriate in the bath for an hour. If that generalisation holds good, then this is very much a feminine novel.
It's is anything but taut. The first nine pages consist of the thoughts of a woman whose only purpose in the novel is to be the one who finds the first victim. She sits in a car, looking out of the window and thinks through her entire life story, including the life stories of her family, in a way that absolutely nobody does in real life (any more than they look in the mirror and mentally describe their appearance: that much-loved staple of poor writers who don't know how else to describe their characters. It's a perfect example of the chapter in How Not to Write a Novel called "What color am I?"). Again and again, characters sit back and think about their lives while the story takes a back seat. This gets quite tiresome.
By the time I had read the first third of the book, I still had little idea about the criminal (except that (s)he is implausibly sadistic) because the author was so obsessed with the characters' back stories that the novel still hadn't got going. And that was the point where I gave up.
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