RogerBW's Blog

Mixing with Murder, Ann Granger 25 November 2018

2005 thriller/mystery; sixth of Granger's novels of Fran Varady, would-be thespian and amateur sleuth. Fran didn't want to get involved again with Mickey Allerton, a strip club owner whom she's run into before, but he wants her to track down a dancer who's run off. And he's keeping her dog to make sure she does it.

Finding Lisa at her parents' place in Oxford is easy enough; but that's when things start to go wrong. Lisa is angry, scared, and unwilling even to listen to Fran, but she's too confrontational to be interesting; and, alas, the repeated cycles of Fran trying to talk to her, and Lisa putting her off with the same objections, become tedious to the reader (as, clearly, they also are to Fran, but she keeps coming in with the same approaches rather than saying anything new). Even after Fran finds a body and gets involved with the police investigation, this cycle continues. I felt that Lisa needed to be a bit more sympathetic, or at least a bit less stupid; as things are, it's just tiresome to read about her.

Naturally Fran gets involved with a member of the Oxford police, DS Haley Pereira (in order to humanise her contact with the investigation); while I can see why the story needed to be set out of London, so that Allerton would have a limited range of resources to deploy, it's a shame that we couldn't have had the recurring character of DI Janice Morgan, or at least someone else who isn't, as Pereira is, extremely like Morgan except for a couple of surface details.

There's plenty of Oxford geography, though no need to follow along on a map. Still, Fran's native habitat is London, and she fits better there.

This feels more like a late-nineties book (when the series started) than an mid-two-thousands one; Granger was born in the 1930s, and while she clearly feels the need to mention The Internet the way she does it (with an antisocial, nocturnal, unhygienic loner who happens to be Fran's upstairs neighbour) would have been embarrassingly dated even when this came out in 2005. And mobile phones are treated as a scarce resource. More seriously, one character is unable to walk, and his being "stuck in a wheelchair" is treated as a life-destroying affliction.

As for the plot itself, it's clear that something is going on beyond what Fran's been told, but Granger omits one key piece of information in a very obvious way which tries to avoid giving the clue too blatantly but leaves the reader working on meta-plot data rather than the same set of information that Fran's using.

For all that, Granger's writing of Fran's internal voice remains interesting enough that I forgive her the problems. The ending is generally downbeat, but in a way that works. Followed by Rattling the Bones.

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

Previous in series: Watching Out | Series: Fran Varady | Next in series: Rattling the Bones

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

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 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 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