17 October 2013

Review: The Dark Clue by James Wilson

Mass market paperback, 472 pages
Published 2001

Acquired September 2013
Read October 2013
The Dark Clue
by James Wilson

I think I appreciate the project of The Dark Clue more than I admire its actual execution. It takes (beloved) characters from The Woman in White and does some awful things to them... but doesn't it need to? The project of the novel is such that showing the darkness in a character I already know, admire, and love is essential to its success. If it had been about two other Victorian investigators, I wouldn't've cared-- but this novel needs me to be horrified.

Unfortunately, in the execution it doesn't quite come off. My front cover blurb says "Read 50 pages and you will be gripped" and calls it "A Novel of Victorian Suspense," but at page 50, all that's happened is that Walter Hartright has been asked to write a biography and he's talked to John Ruskin. Riveting!  More significant, there's a point about halfway through the novel where Walter and Marian both start to despair based on what they've learned... but they haven't learned a thing! Later, they learn (and so) stuff worth despairing over, but the events don't justify their reactions at the point they actually have them.

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