Friday, April 11, 2008

Everything I Consume: City of Tiny Lights

This book is a mystery set in London centered around a Ugandan-Pakistani private detective who is looking for a missing prostitute. It has a great cover.

This is one of those novels where a writer of "serious" fiction decides to slum as a mystery writer. This kind of book can work if the writer understands the mystery genre but author Patrick Neate clearly doesn't. The book is filled with numerous lengthy asides that do nothing to illuminate the plot or reveal character. The plot eventually grinds to halt at the middle when the private detective finds the woman he's been hired to find and then spends a couple of chapters getting him motivated again to solve the murder that, I guess, is at the heart of the case. I stopped reading about halfway through after the detective's father gave a lengthy biography on the terrorist who is somehow involved in the murder.

It reminded me of two other books, Like a Hole in the Head by Jennifer Banbury, another book that sought to "transcend" the mystery genre with poor results and Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers. Murder Must Advertise is a great book and has a climactic cricket scene that is one of my favorites. Oh, geez, my bad, the protagonist of City of Tiny Lights is constantly making references to cricket.

This book does raise the interesting question of what counts as consuming a book or movie. I read a little over half of this book and I think it counts but the other day I watched bits and pieces of Infamous, maybe about a third, and I don't think that counts as watching so it's not on my list of movies seen in 2008. A question for the philosophers I guess.

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