Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

I got my highlighters and pen all ready for this one. It was $4.99 from the Post Office, and we bought it in a fine tradition of "OMG we haven't made the Eftpos limit, what else can we buy in a hurry so as not to upset the following customers?" So I ended up with "The Mermaids Singing" by Val McDermid.

I was mildly disappointed that the writing was perfectly fine, and I travelled through the novel with nary a blip on my "phrases to trip over" radar. I put the pens away, eventually. I think maybe I was more scarred by The Girl In The Steel Corset than I thought!

So, the writing was fine. The book tumbled along, neither exciting nor dull. The characters were also neither exciting nor dull. People died, people chased other people, people found out whodunnit. Yeah, OK, so I'm not a big reader of the genre.

Having said that, I bought the book based on the cover and the title. The copy I have actually has a different colour art, but this was the closest to the cover I have. There is no barbed wire in this book, nor barbed wire men. I was a sad panda. There were also no mermaids, nor singing. Cue a VERY sad panda.

So what is with the title? Am I missing something? Is there some obscure story that makes the title meaningful? Mermaids are cool - why use them in the title if they're not in the book? Regardless, I was a bit put out that such a cool title was wasted on an not-cool book.

And men women relationships. Really? Hello, people, women can work with attractive men and not develop crushes on them. Really. And, you know what? It happens EVERY DAY. Why is it that as soon as someone in a crime novel has a vagina, she has to fall in lust/love/crush or be the lust/love/crush object? Why can't she just be a person?

The opening was also kind of confusing for me. We start with multiple points of view of three people, but they're all doing the same thing. And they all sound the same! And then we drop down to two main points of view and I can only tell them apart because the female of the two has a crush!

This book has been out for a long time already, so I'm going to whine about the text itself now, so spoilers ahoy if you worry about that kind of thing. The book is rife with assumptions about men and women, and I spent a fair amount of time thinking "really? You don't think a determined woman would be able to do THAT?" and "This section is written rather neutrally, I wonder if the book is supposed to be playing with our gender assumptions" and the answer is yeah kinda. But also not. It's been a long time since I read the genre, but it doesn't seem to have changed much. The levels of gore vary, but there's a hunt for a killer and blah blah blah. I didn't feel like I was reading anything different from the suspense/crime books I used to read.

Can't be bothered reading this one again. Would any one like my copy?

Sarah P

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