Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Devil's Peak" never actually peaked, despite Michael Connelly's promise

Having finished "Devil's Peak" this morning, I was quite underwhelmed. The subplot with the prostitute divulging her secrets to the minister barely amounted to anything at all. I'm impressed by author Deon Meyer's ability to stretch a plot where barely anything happens over 400 pages, but that's about it. No suspense, no real surprises in a book with a non-linear narrative that doesn't confuse, but certainly annoys. Apparently this won a literary prize in South Africa, so maybe it has really well-constructed sentences and a sense of style that completely flew over my empty head. All I could tell was that it was BORING. I know I've bagged James Patterson out in the past, but even if he and his co-authors are lousy writers, appealing on a lowest-common-denominator trashy entertainment value, at least their stories move. There was a very interesting interview with him in a Sunday Times lift-out, where he openly calls himself a "brand" and admits he's not terribly good a writing or constructing sentences. He comes up with the plots and the co-authors write the novels. If he can pick some better co-writers (chiefly, PLEASE get rid of Maxine Paetro), he could actually put out some decent books.

Anyway, after putting down "Devil's Peak" in disappointment, I noticed a quote on the cover given by Michael Connelly, one of the best writers in the genre. He says: "With Deon Meyer, you can't go wrong." And I realised, this wasn't the first time I'd seen an endorsement on the cover, or within the pages of, a crime novel. In fact, I see quotes from Michael Connelly an awful lot. Same with Tess Gerritsen and Harlan Coben, two other great crime writers. These three certainly show up with favourable quotes more than all the other authors. I've come to think of them as "Quote Whores". Do they get a little payment for these? Once, while on Gerritsen's website, there was a blog entry on how she gets sent manuscripts for all these unpublished novels for her opinion. So I'll give all these authors the benefit of the doubt and assume they read the novels they're championing, but surely when your name pops up again and again on the cover of a new book stating how wonderful it is, you start losing a bit of credibility? Or at the very least, your word starts counting for less? Celebrities cop a lot of crap if they start endorsing everything under the sun, so why should it be any different for authors?

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