Saturday, October 23, 2010
Book Review: Still Life with Crows (spoiler possibility)
So here we are, back in Pendergast-Land, where anything weird that can possibly happen will happen. In this segment we find ourselves in a redneck Kansas town in the middle of cornfields, where the death of woman digging around Indian burial grounds has people talking of a curse. Then more are killed, all in strange but unrelated ways, puzzling even Pendergast, who has the townspeople equally puzzled after he requests steak tartare at the local diner....
Pendergast, with the help of a temporary assistant, the purple-haired goth girl Corrie, pokes around town and makes a general nuisance of himself while trying to solve the murders.
The authors' writing style is, as usual, very engaging, and the characters seem to jump off the page. The ending twist (there's always an ending twist) too is...disturbing, in a way, although I'm very proud to say I had guessed it. Also, the build-up and suspense, and of course the encounters with the unknown killer, gave me chills that I have not had since Relic. The problem comes in, and this may seem spoilerish, that the constant talk of curses has little bearing on the actual plot. Yes, people are scared and talk of ancient Indian burial ground petshops and the like, but it doesn't actually cause anything to happen. The history helps to understand the present but the actual curse fear does not. Secondly, I thought there was too little to go on for Pendergast to figure out the twist. We never hear him pondering it, he just suddenly has all the answers at the end. This, I thought, was a weakness. The facts he had to go on were too scant. You can make a guess but it wasn't enough for him to know what would happen in the final denouement. Lastly, some of the scenes seemed too broken up, almost dreamlike, because you would flip to another scene without any explanation. (This happens especially near the end). It seemed weaker than the others in this way. However, as I said, it was still entertaining, but not the usual fare.
I give this a 2.8/5.