You can tell spring is almost here when you arrive at the monthly Whodunit meeting before sunset. Though there is still snow on the ground, our thoughts have turned towards longer days and warmer temperatures. A fairly small group attended this evening's meeting in which we were pleased to welcome some new members.
This evening we discussed the novel "The Walker on the Cape" by Mike Martin. A Newfoundland native, Mike Martin now lives in Ottawa but returns to his home province annually. The cover of the novel is very attractive with a photo of the Grand Bank lighthouse figured prominently.
As is our usual custom, we rated the novel out of a possible 10 points. Of the sixteen voters present, the average vote was 6.5. Opinions were very disparate with some votes as high as 9 and some as low as 3. Detractors found the novel very simplistic and unsophisticated. Many were critical of the way the dialogue did not flow naturally. Most agreed the novel could have done with some more editing and the use of a few vigilant proofreaders. Detractors found the few loose ends in the plot to be tied up too neatly with little effort or discomfort. Even Windflower's corrupt boss was eliminated as a problem early on in the story. If he had stayed longer, Windflower would have had someone to battle against, thus making the plot more interesting. In short, the plot had potential but was under-developed.
Detractors and fans alike all seemed to like the setting of the novel which was for the most part well described. Most liked the RCMP Sgt. Winston Windflower. They enjoyed his upstanding character and his morning ritual adherence to his native 'smudging' ceremony.
Fans of the novel found it to be a nice change of pace. They relished the 'cosy' aspects of the novel. There was no gratuitous violence, no tension or jeopardy, The small community of Grand Bank was a prime example of small communities anywhere. Readers liked Windflower's love interest and appreciated their relationship enough that they would like to read about it in further novels. However, those looking for passion would not find it in this book as the two didn't so much as kiss. It was joked that the mention of Windflower changing his sheets in preparation for her visit was about as steamy as it got...
All in all, "The Walker on the Cape" was considered a 'light' read with the crime coming secondary to the everyday life of the characters.
The winners of this month's book give-away were:
4. Nancy R.
Next month we will discuss the legal thriller "Defending Jacob" by William Landay.
About the Whodunit Book Club
Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Fourteen members of the Whodunit Book Club met on February 26 to discuss "The Cleaner" by New Zealand writer Paul Cleave.
Two members sent evaluations in absentia.
The cleaner of the title refers to a man, Joe, who cleans in a Christchurch, New Zealand police station by day and kills women at night, his “night work”. His position in the police station gives him access to the investigation of these killings, which have been attributed to a serial killer dubbed the Christchurch Carver. Joe discovers something disturbing, however, he discovers that seven killings have been blamed on the Carver but he knows he has killed only six times. He vows to take his revenge on the copycat killer and then frame him for all the murders.
This is a promising premise for a serial killer story and there were a host of glowing reviews and recommendations for The Cleaner, including one from Mark Billingham, last month’s featured author, so we looked forward to reading and enjoying this dark crime thriller. Alas, it proved to be a big disappointment. Most members gave it low marks; in fact, the average of 4/10 was one of our lowest scores ever. Many were put off by the gratuitous violence, the unlikeable and unsympathetic
characters, especially the main character (one person said he was a boring psychopath). When asked if we had formed a mental picture of any of the characters, the answer was a resounding no. Some mentioned that it was painful to read because of the violence and two members chose not to finish it at all. There was some dark humour, which was clever but became tiresome towards the end of the book. The Cleaner did have its defenders who liked the darkness and the twists within the story but only one person would definitely read other books by Cleave and two said they might.
Despite these negative comments we had a lively discussion about the book and about what is the acceptable (to us) level of violence in dark crime fiction and why psychological thrillers appeal to us as readers. One member concluded that the appeal it is in learning the “why” of a particular crime, something that was lacking in The Cleaner.
Winners of the book giveaways for February were:
1. Cathy G. (welcome back, Cathy)
Next month we will discuss a “cozy”, set in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, "The Walker on the Cape" by Mike Martin.
Thanks to Marlene for writing this post as I missed the February meeting due to family illness.