Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Death By Sheer Torture (Perry Trethowan, #1)Death By Sheer Torture by Robert Barnard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Death by Sheer Torture" is another pleasant and fast read from Robert Barnard, yet I find the novel weaker than two other books by the same author that I have recently read ("Death of an Old Goat", reviewed here, and "Blood Brotherhood" here). Mr. Barnard's wonderfully acerbic and sardonic writing style is largely missing here; also, there is not enough of his trademark black humor. The novel reads almost like a serious mystery.

The story takes place in very late 1970s or in 1980. Perry Trethowan's father, a connoisseur of torture and pain, dies while having fun with his strappado hanging device, and Perry, who happens to be a policeman, is ordered by his boss to participate in the investigation. Perry has been estranged from his father and most of his family for many years, so he quite reluctantly goes back to the home of his youth - a huge castle in Northumberland. The Trethowan family is pretty colorful; in addition to a sado-masochist, it includes minor artists, Nazi sympathizers, and the amusing Squealies.

There are some surprising somber moments toward the end of the novel, and I find the ending quite disappointing in that it builds to a clichéd gathering of all characters, during which Perry presents the solution of the case.

Two and three quarter stars.

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