Relentless by Simon Kernick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Simon Kernick’s “Relentless” redeemed the author a little in my eyes. This is my sixth book by Mr. Kernick; after delightfully depraved “The Business of Dying” (4 stars), and two good novels, “The Crime Trade” (3.5) and “The Murder Exchange” (3), I read two horrible clunkers - “The Last 10 Seconds” (1.5) and “A Good Day to Die” (1 star, an utter failure). So I was quite afraid to read “Relentless”, but I am happy that my fears proved groundless.
“Relentless” is a good thriller, with a fascinating premise, a plot that is not excessively implausible, and a tolerable ending. The incompatibility of premises and denouements is one of Mr. Kernick’s trademarks; in each of the six books that I have read the beginning is much better than the ending. I love reading the beginnings, whereas I have to force myself to read the endings. Yet another trademark is the ability of the protagonists to use the last vestiges of their strength to regain full strength. I noticed this magical ability in five of the six books. Here, on page 47 (paperback, U.S. edition), we see “summoning my remaining strength […], etc. True, it is a minor fault of writing, but I wonder about its consistency.
The writing in “Relentless” is acceptable. The main character, Tom Meron, is drawn rather vividly, but his wife, Kathy, is just a paper cutoff. The character of DI Mike Bolt is well written, and out of all other characters, Lench is well presented and memorable, as a true monster, relentless murderer and torturer.
This novel is quite far in quality from “The Business of Dying”. It is good if brutal entertainment, without any depth. Fabulous first hundred or so pages.
Three and a half stars.
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