Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The Reckoning by Jane Casey (Ebury Press, 2011)
I found The Reckoning to be somewhat of a curious read. At one level, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The writing was engaging, the procedural elements are well done, there’s a nice mix of characters, and the plot has a nice puzzle. The twist halfway through was well executed and worked to elevate the plot above usual police procedural fare. That said, the story was a little uneven in pacing, was a little clichéd in terms of character traits (the world weary superintendent, over-bearing, misogynist DI, headstrong DC, etc), though this is becoming difficult to avoid in a saturated genre, and there were a couple of clunky plot devices. Kerrigan’s romance with her colleague, Rob, was often drawn out and worked to slow the storytelling at times (e.g., pages 90-123 is basically a set of conversations between them that could have been 8-10 pages and still have conveyed the same sentiments). Moreover, her inability to commit to a relationship with him seemed contrived and a little ridiculous -- it made her appear as a serious, committed copper with a Bridget Jones complex that I just didn’t fully buy. As the story neared its conclusion it relies on two elements that I always find somewhat annoying (a highly unlikely coincidence and a critical piece of evidence being delivered on a platter for no discernible reason). Finally, towards the end, the narrative swaps from Maeve’s perspective to Rob’s, but whereas Maeve’s voice is strong and compelling, Rob’s felt flat and lifeless. I realise that sounds quite negative, but as noted, The Reckoning is enjoyable, compelling and clever; with a little editing it would have been a real standout.