I’m slogging through a book by a British mystery writer right now; trying to finish it before the end of the world, but not sure if that goal is attainable. Some books you whip right through, unable to stop long enough to sleep or take bathroom breaks. Others, you read at regular intervals, perhaps an hour before bed or during the laundry cycle. Still others, you slog through, one sentence at a time, telling yourself you’re almost to the end. It won’t be long now. The protagonist is finally doing something other than thinking about how she feels about radishes and making circles in the frosted windowpane with her finger. But it never seems to end. Reading each page is like finishing a chore you’ve been avoiding.
Interestingly enough, some of the books I’ve hated the most, found to be a complete bore, often come to mind years later. They stick with you whether you want them to or not and make you ponder over the strangest things.
It’s not that this specific author is a poor writer. She’s a very good writer, renowned for her mysteries. At least in Britain. I’m not sure Americans feel the same way about her though. After all, I did pick up her book from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble.
I think the problem I have with this author is that the characters are British, which isn’t to say I’m prejudice against brits, but that they are so different in many ways and hard to relate to.
For one thing, they are very class oriented. Talk about putting people in their place! These characters are constantly pointing out the differences between class groups, and whether they are better than them or not. They obviously haven’t gotten over the whole domestic servant/master thing over there. I guess turning socialistic didn’t diminish the lines at all. In fact, they seem to cling to their station in life as though that is the only identity they have left.
Secondly, they say things like, “take the lift up to my loft,” instead of “take the elevator to my apartment.” Babies wear nappies and take rides in perambulators. The hood of a car is called a bonnet and the trunk is a boot. (are they obsessed with clothes, or what?) Why is it called the “king’s English” and which king are they referring too? Did (said) king of England make up these stupid words as he sat around on his throne with nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs?
But mostly, it’s just a really slow moving story. The little bit of humor that’s there is so dry as to be almost indiscernible. And when the murder weapon is a block of concrete dropped from a bridge, it’s not only an impersonal way to commit murder but is also taking blunt-force trauma way too literally. What happened to murderers with a backbone, who face their victims eye to eye instead of paying someone else to do their dirty work?
Anyway, I refuse to give up on this story. I must finish reading it to the end. If only to have a good cry. After all—it’s called, “End in Tears.” Here’s hoping!