Sunday, March 2, 2014

PhoenixPhoenix by John Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

John Connor's Phoenix is a strange book. Well over a half of the book is an enthralling police procedural. The activities of detectives are described in great detail and I suppose with tremendous authenticity as Mr. Connor was involved in numerous homicide prosecutions over the years and was a police advisor in long-term undercover operations. The action takes place in West Yorkshire, which is well described (well, at least from the point of view of a person who has never been there).

The main character of the story is DC Karen Sharpe who acts a lot on her own, often ignoring her supervisors' orders. Because of some traumatic experiences in the past, Ms. Sharpe carries a deeply hidden secret, and is not quite balanced emotionally. Still within the frame of a police procedural, DC Sharpe gets involved in a sort of affair with her supervisor. I am writing "a sort of affair" because one needs to read several well-written pages of boozy dialogue between her and the supervisor to appreciate what is going on between them. Also, of all things there is an absolutely un-erotic but well written "love scene" between the two characters.

So all is well and I am about to rate the book as solid four stars when suddenly the book turns into a fast, so-called "edge of the seat" thriller. The blurb on the cover says "breathless climax". Well, for once the blurb is spot on. Since I do not like fast pace, edge of the seat, breathless climaxes in the plot, my rating goes down.

The characterizations of DC Sharpe and others are rather thin and formulaic. Still, the writing is good to very good. Most of the book is a very solid, detailed police procedural.

Three and almost a half stars.

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