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In Book Reviews on October 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Transworld Publishers 2014

Transworld Publishers 2014

I saw advertisements for this book all over the Underground when it first came out and the cover freaked me the heck out. I love it. I knew that because of the cover I would eventually read this book. I was talked into reading her first book in the Jack Caffery series (Birdman) and did so first. While I did enjoy it, I had more negative things to say about it than positives so I refrained from doing a blog post about it. This book was much much better than that one.

Nutshell blurb: Jack Caffery is called in to investigate some disturbing events which happen in a high security unit for the mentally ill. And then bad stuff happens.

I can’t help but compare Ms. Hayder’s writing in both of the books that I’ve read. It’s interesting to see how her style has progressed from book 1 to book 6. (I’m trying to ignore the fact that I’ve skipped from book 1 to book 6 but now I’m looking at it in black and white and I’m horrified. I actually skipped four other books. How could I let this happen????) Anyway, her style has improved.

I’m not sure if I like Jack Caffery very much, though. I found the other characters, particularly A.J., a nurse in the nut house, much more interesting as he has more personality and isn’t under a lot of pressure to be a super cool detective with lots of secrets.

Being cool is totally over-rated, by the way. I realise that I’m biased on this statement as it points in my favour. I mean, I’m pretty much the opposite of cool. Perhaps this is why characters who try really hard to attain a sense of mystique annoy me. I can’t relate. I could never imagine myself as a gritty, hard-boiled detective. I would be out with my friends, having cocktails and I’d say something like ‘Oh my God, you guys. I have to tell you about the awesomest case I’m working on. So, I was visiting this looney-bin, right…’

Yeah, so I have a really hard time with the inscrutable mysterioso who suffers from extreme emotional poverty yet whom all females seem to be attracted to. This archetype doesn’t work for me. However, as I just mentioned, the other characters are pretty interesting. I was intrigued by the woman who thought that she could unzip herself out of her skin to make herself invisible. I mean, who doesn’t want to do that sometimes?

Ok, actually I don’t. It was pretty freaky.

I must admit that I saw the plot twist coming from miles away (and I’m not really one of those people who says ‘I saw the plot twist coming from miles away’) so that was a bit dissatisfying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was difficult to put it down and even though I don’t particularly like the main character, I would be interested to see how his story unfolds in other books.

Plus, I have to read at least 4 of her other ones because I skipped them and that just isn’t the done thing. And yes, I’m a little bit obsessive about these things. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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  1. That cover will give me nightmares.

  2. This cover really appeals to me too, and though I’m not much of a mystery reader, anything set in an asylum kind of pings my radar. So hmmmm….

    Also I have to agree with you; the snarky cool secretive protagonist thing is really overdone and just not as interesting as the writers seem to think it is. I swear every male UF protagonist is the same damn guy — probably with plenty of crossover to mysteries!

    • Indeed. I get really annoyed by these characters. It’s the reason I can’t invest myself fully into the story. However, in this book, it didn’t feel like he was in it very much. Maybe that’s why I liked it better than the first one. If you decide to give it a try let me know what you think.

  3. I think the cover is interesting too. Pretty and disturbing at the same time. It looks like a ceramic doll of a cat-person, whch I would not want in my house, haha!

    I agree with your opinion that ‘cool’ is over-rated. I feel the same way about ‘quirky’ TV characters like in House and Sherlock and seemingly many others, as popular as they are. I don’t understand the appeal. Mostly they just seem neurotic and quite rude, and that’s supposed to make them endearing LOL. Cheers.

    • You’re right! I’m sure some people find it endearing. But I don’t and it’s far too common in crime novels which makes it kind of boring. And I wouldn’t want that thing in my house either! 😀

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