RogerBW's Blog

Watching Out, Ann Granger 14 June 2018

2002 thriller/mystery; fifth of Granger's novels of Fran Varady, would-be thespian and amateur sleuth. Fran's in a play, very amateur and over a pub for one night only, but it's still acting work; and she's waitressing at the trendy pizzeria that used to be the Hot Spud Café. But something about it doesn't feel quite right, even before an illegal immigrant boy comes in, desperate to find "Max".

Having multiple plot threads going on at the same time is a miniature form of the split narrative: one runs the risk of one story being more compelling than the other(s), so that the reader's keen to get back to it and annoyed when the narrative switches. But Granger pulls it off: the dodginess at the pizzeria may be linked to the kid, or may not, and then there's the play, and then there's Susie Duke the private detective who wants to get Fran to work for her and is bribing her with driving lessons; there's a constant sense of not having enough time to do everything, so Fran herself is frustrated at the shifts between plots, but as a reader I could go along with it.

Fran continues to be prickly and self-sabotaging while developing a rudimentary awareness that this is what she's doing to herself; and more impressively, her inner monologue keeps me in sympathy with her even while she's messing things up.

As before, the pacing is odd; the play's one performance is the obvious place to put the other climactic events, but instead they're spread out over the next few chapters (and days). But Fran is interesting, the recurring cast have developed solid personalities, and overall while this isn't world-changing detective fiction it is rather enjoyable.

Something of a recovery after the disappointment of Risking It All. Followed by Mixing with Murder.

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Previous in series: Risking It All | Series: Fran Varady | Next in series: Mixing with Murder

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