Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Think Of The Children" by Kerry Wilkinson

DS Jessica Daniel witnesses a car accident. When she gets to the scene, the driver is dead, and she discovers the dead body of a boy in the trunk. The driver had a map to a specific location. When Jessica and her team arrive there, they discover some old clothes. They eventually learn the clothes belong to a boy who disappeared without a trace fourteen years earlier. Another lead takes them to an allotment shed, where they find a list of boys' names. What could link the two crimes, and is the list an indication that more boys will become victims?

It's another British police procedural. That should tell you everything to need to know, really.

It avoids some cliches. Jessica thankfully doesn't come with a traumatic past, just some mild romantic angst. There wasn't an evil, conniving journalist waiting in the wings to try and character-assassinate Jessica. There wasn't any internal team conflicts with somebody out for Jessica's job. There was that, at least.

However, the rest of it wasn't much to write home about. I thought the various elements to the plot were interesting, and wanted to see how they would all link up. But it was pretty thin. This felt very padded out. As it typical of the genre, there are false leads and dead ends.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER When another boy goes missing, we get a few chapters from the point of view of Lloyd, the kidnapped boy, who refers to his kidnapper as "the person". It is then revealed his kidnapper is his grandmother, and has nothing to do with the case. Why the fuck was he referring to his grandmother as "the person" and not "grandmother"? It's cheap, lazy writing that treats the reader like an idiot. END SPOILER

I was about ready to throw the book across the room during an endless 17-page chapter in which Jessica makes dinner for her boyfriend and some friends. SEVENTEEN FUCKING PAGES. Why was that necessary? It doesn't add anything to the story or characterisation, as we're repeatedly told it's completely out of character for Jessica to do that! Grrrr.

Although Jessica approved somewhat towards the end, I had difficulty liking her character. She's a miserable bitch most of the time.

By the end I was skimming. I grew tired of the author's habit of telling us that Jessica had figured something out, but not actually letting us (the reader) in on it. This was particularly painful in the home stretch, where Jessica undertakes all manner of schemes to bring about a resolution to the case. I was so bored by then, I was mostly skimming, only to be rewarded with the revelation to be exactly what I expected it to be.

I won't be visiting any of Jessica's other adventures. She was annoying, the plot was slow and predictable, and the writer employed cheap, lazy tricks to try and obfuscate any plot surprises. There are too many good books out there to waste more time on a series that brings nothing new to a genre that I'm increasingly beginning to dislike.

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