Saturday, August 02, 2008
Book Report: No Witnesses by Ridley Pearson (1994)
Ugh. Ultimately, I sort of dreaded reading a Pearson book because he lives part time in the next suburb over, so he's the author I'm most likely to run into at the local coffeeshop or used bookstore and the one who could most easily show up on my front doorstep to taunt me that he's a published and successful author and my blog isn't even as well read as his book reviews.

Because, brother, this book sucked.

It sort of serves me right, I suppose, that I swore off classics because they take so long and then I start a 470 page mass market paperback that I have to endure over the course of two weeks or so. You know what? Maybe I'll go back to the classics. Sometimes, they're good enough that I enjoy them even if they're slow reading.

This piece is the third, I guess, in a police detective series featuring a detective and a police psychologist. Perhaps its presence in the series explains a bit how the characters are sort of thin--I suppose they get that way in even the middle of McBain's books or John Sandford's books. But the descriptions are paragraph-long (or more) adjective dumps, and we get bunches of them even for minor characters. Then, they're moved through a series of convoluted, contrived, and melodramatic chapter scenes where individual characters, mostly the female police detective, face artificial peril. Then we get to a semi-climax whose very setup relies on poor police procedure that imperils innocent children based on a prosecutor's (wait, second prosecutor: first was eliminated in a contrived subplot) desire for better charges.

It was so bad that the night before I finished, I went into my wife's office after reading it and banged my head into her wall just so I could sum up why I stuck with the book: the punchline "Because it feels so good when I stop."

Maybe this is an outlier on the bottom end of Pearson's books. I think I've got at least one more in English here somewhere to read (in addition to the one I have in a Scandinavian language that I cannot read), so perhaps eventually I'll give him another shot. I won't buy any more, though. I have enough else to read.

Special memo to Mr. Pearson when he Googles himself: Hey, no offense, and congratulations on making a living doing what I'd rather. I cannot even get agents to review the complete manuscript of my last novel.

Books mentioned in this review:

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."