Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Still Waters by John Moss

I wanted so much to love this book: the combination of Canada, koi carp and crime seemed the perfect offering, and I remembered an article about the Canadian north by the same author which suggested that here would be a crime novelist worth reading. Sadly, though, I found a number of things got in the way of my enjoyment. The subject matter – exploitative sex crime – didn’t help, especially as it led to the two principal characters dwelling on their own experience in a way that I found slightly unconvincing. My main problem, though, was that I found it all over-written, both in plot and description; I thought of giving an example here but, in fact, the individual passages are fine, it’s the cumulative effect that makes me feel I’m reading through treacle. In the same way, the nerdish-ness of the male detective, Morgan, means that the details pile up, information about Kurdish carpets bumping up against fish-y factoids until you long for a bit of old-fashioned action. Actually, I’m surprised Morgan and his partner, Miranda, ever get a result, they spend so much time sitting around thinking.

Not surprisingly, the sense of place is good – Rosedale, Toronto, and rural Ontario are much harder to evoke than, say, Louise Penny’s Three Pines, but Moss does it well. I fear, however, that the author is too much in love with both his creations – not an uncommon failing in crime novelists, but it can become intrusive. Things may settle down in the later books – this is the first of a series – but I’m not sure that I’ll be giving it a second chance, unless someone can persuade me otherwise. The fish were fun, though.

1 comment:

  1. What a shame. I was hoping that here would be another Canadian crime writer I could enjoy as much as I have Penny. It is so disappointing when you've gone to a book with hopes high, isn't it? Has Moss written other books? Would it be worth trying something else just to see if this was an aberration?