Friday, August 3, 2012
Review of A Long Silence by Nicolas Freeling (Penguin, 1972)
I struggled through A Long Silence. It didn’t work for me at a number of levels. First, Freeling’s style is more show than tell, with lengthy descriptive, reflective and back story passages. Second, the plot just didn’t seem to make much sense: a person recruited off the street without any assessment; going to a policeman in another city because a watch was found; assassinating a policeman who is barely trying and has no evidence of any wrongdoing. Third, the author inserts himself into the story immediately after he kills off his detective to provide a personal account of the real life detective on which Piet Van der Valk was based and his relationship with him and his wife. It's a strange interlude, especially as a lot of it is not that complementary and quite misogynist. And it totally disrupts the narrative flow of the novel. The second half is a little better, swapping into a cozy, but the resolution is a bit of a damp squib. All in all, a weak story and storytelling that failed to provide a compelling narrative.