Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The really really bad book I just read
I just spent the last two weeks reading a Kathy Reichs novel.
Now, this may not seem anything other than your normal reading experience but really, it wasn't. You see, it was only a year ago that I swore I'd never read one again because they are so alarmingly awful. I mean, genuinely quite dreadful.
So, you ask, why on earth would I pick one up again? When there are a million and one books calling my name from the pile Nick keeps adding to next to my bed.
It's quite simple: the first one I read was tremendous. It was gory and thrilling. It was charming in its attention to forensic detail. It was unputdownable.
It was the first inhalation of crack to a bored mind.
Everyone has their secret trashy writer. I thought, after the debacle that Evanovitch descended into, I'd found my new secret love. So I ran out and bought the next one, which wasn't quite as good.
Then the next. Which was borderline annoying. Then. Well, put it this way: even crack becomes really REALLY fucking fucking FUCKING shit.
For those unfamiliar to the Reichs world, please, let me enlighten you lest you fall into my trap of trying to replicate that first hit and come away with the ultimate sensation that we all die. Just some not soon enough.
Okay. Basically, Kathy Reichs is some forensic pathlologist lady. She has about a million degrees in subjects that would make the rest of our eyes dry out. Some of the stuff she knows about is only known by about three people in the world and the other two probably spend their entire life reading books and wearing things that you really shouldn't allow near a naked flame.
Not for Kathy though - oh no.
Consider the inside cover picture.
See Kathy. (You may have to cock your head - I'm not so hot on technical things. Not like ... Kathy)
Kathy is petite. Kathy has a little face with big, shiny eyes and well-styled, blonde hair. Aside from the abundance of well applied make-up, this woman is pretty normal looking. If it weren't for the smug, tugged up corners of that measly mouth: I know everytfuckingthing in the world and look ... I also write novels whilst sawing through old bones and talking about flesh slippage. I also have a cat.
Consider Tempe Brennan, Ms Reich's erstwhile, plucky, bright as a button leading character. Tempe is slim, she's blonde, she's the - ho ho - wrong side of 40. She has well-styled blonde hair. She applies her make-up carefully. Sounding familiar.
Tempe works in the same labs as Ms Reichs - South Carolina and Montreal - she has the same phenomenally loaded degree shelf gained from the same universities.
She has large blue eyes which blink sadly when she thinks about her failed marriage and her cat.
THE REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING BIT
As if the commitment to no imagination when it comes to creating a character isn't enough, Reichs then goes on to make her the most unbelievably stupid person you have ever met.
For Point 3, let's look at what this super-intelligent woman does:
Every single case she works on ends up in her being strangled, beaten, thrown off cliffs, practically raped or burnt to a crisp in her - oh no not the JC Penny pants! - underwear. Because she, quite simply, never ever fucking learns. This woman refuses to take heed of the police who are saying: someone wants to kill you, don't go back to your apartment. Even when someone who wants to kill her has smeared this intention on the wall in her Chanel lipstick. Oh no, Tempe has always been right when she's said it's just some drug addict who's broken in and stolen things for drug money. Like the secret file which holds the key to the identity of the killer. We all know how well they sell on the black market.
No, Tempe will eschew police surveillance because she doesn't need it. Don't be stupid. Although, on occasion it's because her - the imagination that created this will live on forever - on-off affair with a police officer makes her too proud. While we're on that, really, can anyone get enough of a relationship that's on-off spread over seven books and filled with Helen Fielding style angst? I mean, when a man tells you he loves you in the first chapter or so, that's definitely the time to go off in a mood for the rest of the story because he didn't suggest dinner.
She's a bright one, that Tempe. She leads with a great example.
THE USE OF CREATIVE LANGUAGE
These two pretty much sum up the extent of my utter frustration with the publishing world.
Reichs is a multi-millionaire author. And she constructs sentences like this:
A doctor's surgery. Two kids are sitting in the corner at a table colouring in: "The crayons were placed equidistant between then." EQUIDISTANT. Phew.
A missing witness. "Where was she running to in the dying embers of the day." Dear diary, Today was kind of tough. Jimmy didn't talk to me and when I tried to talk to Melissa I only found her after the bell rang and she was all the way across the playing field. I mean. Where was she running to in the dying embers of the day? Love Kathy, aged 15, nearly 16 and I can do it then.
A multi-millionaire writer.
Next: We introduce John Grisham to humour. It'll be wild.