Monday, January 21

More Twisted – Jeffrey Deaver

This second collection of short stories includes mysteries set in London in the 1880’s and modern day Florence, as well as various locations in the US. His characters include an antiques dealer, a blocked mystery writer, at least one woman in peril and his most famous creations, Amelia Sachs and paraplegic genius Lincoln Rhyme. The mysteries themselves run from traditional whodunits to cryptic, last dying word puzzles and mysteries without murder.
Common to them all is at least one twist that I, even paying close attention, usually didn’t see coming. I particularly liked the twist in “Born Bad”, so much so that when it came I went back to the beginning to appreciate the first half of the story with more informed eyes.
Also common to almost every short story was an annoyingly long explanation of how the twist had played out, evidently for those readers who are presumed too thick to get it or who’d otherwise argue with the outcome. The result is that the unkinking of the twist occupies a sizeable amount of the story. “Copycat”, for example, runs for thirty-four pages, the last four of which explain every detail of a twist that would have had more punch it delivered in just a paragraph or two.
There was also annoying detail dogging other aspects of most of the stories – the explanation in “Locard’s Principle” that, for investigators, “It was much better to have expensive evidence, bought with traceable credit cards,” than a ubiquitous brand of rope sold everywhere and likely bought with cash. And the drawn out explanation of how one character set up another in “The Westphalian Ring”, though I found the use of “burglarised” instead of “burgled” in 1880’s London even more profoundly irritating.
All in all my decision (made after reading the last Lincoln Rhyme novel) to abandon Deaver’s new work has been affirmed, and I’m inordinately glad I didn’t buy More Twisted but instead borrowed it from my fabulous local library. - Alex

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