Monday, December 14, 2009

Amanda Cross: Honest Doubt

Now, I like Amanda Cross. So obviously I was delighted to see a Cross I hadn't read on the shelf and immediately brought it home. Last time I read one of her books was in February 2006, and I've had her simmering on the back burner of my brain since, hoping to come across a new one. This is why my disappointment in Honest Doubt is so acute. I didn't enjoy it at all. And I hate that I didn't. [cue violins and sobs]

It's a very recent book, from 2000, and therefore feels slightly anachronistic. My last forays into the world of Kate Fansler were set in the mid-eighties, and this book has that air of really being set in an earlier time, just not. This is the same problem that P.D. James has sometimes, as I've said. Unlike the other Crosses I've read it's not written from Kate's perspective, but as a first person narrative of a private detective known as Woody, who has been hired to solve the murder of a much disliked, mysogynistic college professor who specialised in Tennyson. (Hey, that was a long sentence!) Woody, for some reason that just feels contrived, needs some expert insight into the workings of an English department, so is recommended Kate as a sort of consultant. So from here the story potters on. Woody interviews suspects, on her own or with a local policeman who is very helpful. She is baffled by the intricate mysterious workings of both the department itself and those intelligent academics who talk and talk about academic things until she gets confused and only realises later that she's been distracted. It's just very unrealistic, and has a very uncomfortable air of an academic trying to blow her own trumpet. Unlike! It all ends with Agatha Christie playing a part in solving it all. 

I dunno. Was rather bored to be honest. Of course, I'll read anything else I can find - goes without saying. I've not given up on her.

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