RogerBW's Blog

Murder in Focus, Medora Sale 30 September 2019

1989 mystery/suspense, second in the John Sanders/Harriet Jeffries series. DI Sanders is in Ottawa for training, and annoyed at the world; but he was also the last person to see an undercover cop, apart from the murderer.

The structure of this book is downright odd, as we shift between multiple viewpoints, and multiple parallel investigations. On the one hand, the RCMP have undeniable evidence that one of their own is corrupt, and are trying to root that person out while stopping whatever might be planned to happen at an international conference; on the other, Sanders runs by coincidence into Jeffries the architectural photographer, and also by coincidence she takes a picture of the man whom Sanders has just realised is probably a killer. So the same information has to be discovered in two separate narrative paths.

As for the book's value as a mystery to be solved, we know who the killer is but not the identity of the corrupt Mountie, though there's a limited pool of candidates. I didn't spot the villain(s), and I'm not sure that there's enough evidence to do so, but that doesn't seem to be the main focus of this strand; it's more "person A is talking to person B, and this is a suspenseful scene because as far as we know either or both of them might be rotten".

That would all be fine if it weren't for the character of Sanders, who is not only disconnected from his network of colleagues so that this doesn't work as a procedural, but acts like a macho idiot straight out of the 1970s; he's not happy about being sent to Ottawa, and apparently feels that that bad mood gives him licence to treat everyone he meets as dirt. Even when he falls for Jeffries he doesn't get much better, and while I enjoy the sort of snappy flirtatious dialogue of which the Thin Man films are the canonical example this feels more weary and vicious; as in the previous book, everyone is tired and on edge, all the time.

(And even in 1989, casually sliding your arm until it was resting on a woman's shoulders was generally known as a clich├ęd thing not to do, at least in my culture. But these characters are more than ten years older than I was, and Sale was fifteen years older than them.)

So not as much fun as I was hoping for, though the writing was solid and I'll carry on with the series for now.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Murder on the Run | Series: John Sanders-Harriet Jeffries

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo-nebula reread humour in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha men with beards museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1