Monday, 3 November 2014

Taglines make me gripe - Visibility by Boris Starling

I am a big fan of Boris Starling's Messiah so although I wasn't particularly struck by the blurb of this book I thought I'd give it a whirl. Either fortunately or unfortunately, my copy contained a hugely misleading blurb which spoke excitedly of a rising body count (there isn't), and the tagline "Now you see it, now you're dead" (you aren't).

This is a very claustrophobic novel and it does a decent job of evoking the thick London fog the characters move through as they go about their investigations. However, there's little feeling of threat. There's a secret the MC, Herbert Smith, is trying to find out but - and particularly because this is set in the 50s - it's not exciting enough. At the grand reveal I was waiting for a second denouement, or some tension, or anything at all to get me past the mild disappointment (particularly as if I had a better memory for names I would have had an idea where this was going within the first third).

This book reminds me very much of Robert Harris' Fatherland - it has the same cold atmosphere and gradual pacing, but where that had an emotional impact (by pulling a neat little trick with what we, the modern reader, know vs what the MC in that knows), here Starling's neat plotting is slightly too dull. The pieces are there and they all line up well enough, but ... I could easily have given up on this one. 2 stars.

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