4 September 2014

Review: THE WALLS OF JERICHO, Jack Bunyan

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1852 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DG0JYL2
  • published December 2013
Synopsis (Amazon)

A classic murder mystery set in the competitive world of brass banding. Gerald Martin, a respected  figure in the brass band world, collapses from a gas attack in the adjudicator's booth in the middle of a competition taking place in the Midlands.

Maggie Sparrow is a player at the competition who witnesses the incident. She is also a police detective and finds herself in charge of the case. A confident and capable chief inspector, even Maggie is unprepared for the unexpected direction the investigation takes towards its dramatic resolution.

My Take

Once the police investigation into the murder of Gerald Martin really gets underway, it becomes obvious that he had many enemies, many fingers in many pies, and many who were glad to see him gone. Altogether he was a pretty nasty character.

I found this debut novel quite an enjoyable read. I have lurked on the fringes of Australian brass banding for over three decades and this is the first novel I have ever read set in a brass band competition. I'm sure there will be an eager audience amongst people like me.

On the surface THE WALLS OF JERICHO is a well constructed police procedural, with plenty of red herrings, and some interesting sub-plots.

However this novel has a few editing problems
  • The author has a lot he wants to tell us about brass banding in Britain, and in some senses he hasn't known when to stop. There is a lot of background material about competitions, adjudication and so on, and I'm not sure we needed to know it all.
  • I had the feeling that the author had a lot that he wanted to say in relation to how brass banding works and that he had been waiting a long time to get it off his chest.
  • I think there was a similar lack of editing problem with character construction. This novel actually has a considerable cast of characters, but the author has decided to flesh them all out in some detail, including a lot of biographical detail.
  • There is also a timeline problem. New plot strands appear out of sequence. It is always difficult to know how to introduce new sequences but it is not really helpful if they are plucked from well behind the timeline of the police investigation, particularly not when the murder victim has been dead for some days, and this sequence of action begins some days prior.
All of the above looks like a wad of major criticism but in fact are just pointers to how the length of the novel might have been managed better, and how the underlying structure could have been made tighter.

In the long run there proved to be too many sub-plots, too much interweaving, too many back-stories. The author created problems for himself here because these sub-plots required resolution, and in some cases he took the path of disposing of the character.

My rating: 3.9

About the author

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks, as ever. Sounds as though there was a bit too much going on in this novel. Still, a solid-sounding plot.

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