Saturday, July 29, 2017

A June of Ordinary Murders - Conor Brady (Joe Swallow #1)

A June of Ordinary Murders (Joe Swallow, #1)A June of Ordinary Murders was a Book of the Month pick a while ago, and while I missed out on getting it through BOTM, I added it to an Amazon order so I could get free same-day shipping at one point.  I like mysteries with a historical setting much more than I like contemporary ones; investigation just seems so much more interesting in the days before the advanced forensics we have available now.  I mean, those forensics are great for actually solving crimes, but they typically don't make the process as fun to read about!  (Or do they?  I'm watching FX's People V. OJ Simpson right now on Netflix and maaaaan.)  This book, with its setting in Victorian-era Ireland, specifically Dublin, and the potential of a serial killer seemed to be something that would be very interesting.  (Have I mentioned I also love Criminal Minds?)

The story here follows Joe Swallow, a detective with the G-unit in Dublin.  Swallow had some success earlier in his career, but recently an unsolved crime has been hanging over him.  With the discovery of two mutilated bodies in a park and no leads to be found, and with a volatile political climate simmering all around, he feels a lot of pressure to solve the crime, and fast--but doesn't really know how.

Unfortunately, the book wasn't all I'd hoped it would be.  The setting is excellent, yes, and I rather liked the actual mystery and how it unfolded, as well.  But Brady apparently has a love for info-dumping.  While a few nuggets of information are necessary in order to get a grip on the setting and the characters--such as an "ordinary" crime just being one that doesn't have a political element--I felt he went into way too much depth sometimes.  Pages upon pages of background on characters and situations who ultimately weren't that important took up space.  For example, was the entire saga of the barge trip and how barges and locks work really necessary?  It didn't feel like it.  It just felt like the 15 minutes of stuff that would occur before the start of a Law & Order episode, and could have easily been worked into the main narrative rather than just dropped all in one place.  Episodes like this made my eyes glaze over and sometimes made it hard to continue reading the book.

Additionally, while I felt like the main crime as well-integrated into the larger story, the second crime was not.  It initially seemed like it had promise, but at the end of the book I was left going, "Really?  That's it?"  That's not a great feeling to be left with at the end of the mystery; everything with the main crime felt so neatly tied together, but for the second crime, it ultimately just felt tacked-on and unnecessary, added in for extra page space more than anything else.  Thinking back on it, I actually can't think of any way in which any of the information tied to the second crime was really integral to the main one.  It was meant to serve as a distraction, I suppose, but honestly I was just bored by it rather than distracted, as well.

Overall, this was an okay book, but I found myself bored at multiple points while reading it.  I appreciated the historical setting, but it's just a "meh" book overall.

2 stars out of 5.

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