Thursday, February 27, 2014

A trial

Sam Madison returns home from teaching one of his classes and finds his wife, Sandrine, dead from an apparent suicide. She had been depressed since being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

When police begin investigating, they find Sam's passive attitude puzzling and eventually believe that this was a murder disguised as suicide. Sam is arrested. Sam shows little reaction and the reader wonders if he might be guilty after all.

Sam narrates the events of his trial. We don't read about the testimony, only Sam's reaction to what is said.  Sometimes his mind wanders and his attorney has to remind him to pay attention. When he is questioned, being a professor of English, he often answers with a quote from a novel or something of the sort. When a detective states that Sandrine was working on a book on Cleopatra who was Egyptian. Sam responds that Cleopatra was Greek and no more Egyptian than Elizabeth Taylor.

As a mystery, this book didn't keep me interested. There was never a time that I felt I couldn't wait to get back to the story. We know from the start that Sandrine is dead and only have to decide if Sam had a hand in her death. He didn't seem to care how the court case came out and neither did I. The pace crawled and Sam is an unlikable character.

His attorney, Morty, is one of the better characters and has a flair about him when cross examining the witnesses. He has to remind Sam how to act as a man on trial but Sam is so passive that the reader becomes  unempathetic.

I enjoy Thomas Cook as a writer and felt that his literary style was good, he had a hard job in trying to make an unlikable character someone that the reader would like to know more about. I also felt that the conclusion didn't save the novel, even though the book has been nominated for an Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of 2013.

2 comments:

Kelly said...

It sounds like the courtroom scenes had potential, coming from Sam's point of view....but a shame that it turned out to be such a disappointment.

Michael Draper said...

Kelly,
Thanks for your input. I'm sure that it's just me and that other reviewers would find more in the story.

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