Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2007 Tournament of Books: Round one, match five.

In Arthur and George, it was clear from the beginning that the mystery would be solved and that the solution wasn’t the sort that could be sussed out by a careful reader. That takes away much of the fun. The weakness is especially apparent in the final third of the book, when the plot seems to slow down and the story disintegrates into a legal tug of war over the fate of George Edalji. It wouldn’t have been so dry had Sir Arthur’s skills been more in doubt; the knowledge that eventually he would tap the correct villain and clear Mr. Edalji’s name took away some of my interest as I neared the end.

Conversely, One Good Turn has a slow start—it’s never completely obvious which of the many characters is the main crime-solver—but the twists and turns of the final chapters (indeed, the final lines) kept me up late, anxious to read just one more chapter rather than go to bed and leave the mystery unsolved. And when I was finished, I was pleased to be able to say that I’d had my suspicions about the character eventually pegged for the crime. Early on I’d thought, Now, that person is acting pretty funny for the circumstances. It is possible for a careful reader to solve the crime in this book, and for this sleuth, that makes a big difference.

Winner.  Eventually, Max must stumble. 

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