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.

  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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