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Down Cemetery Road by Mick Herron
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Down Cemetery Road (original 2003; edition 2009)

by Mick Herron

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212495,208 (3.5)None
bfister's review
A woman who is realizing her marriage is a sham grows obsessed with the fate of a small child who has disappeared after being rescued from a house that exploded, killing her mother. Meanwhile, a soldier deployed to the middle east is witness to some horrifying form of chemical warfare, but when he tries to escape a hospital where he is incarcerated and being treated by an uncommunicative staff, he catches a glimpse of a landscape that looks very much like home. While the rollicking story is a bit of Desperate Housewives meets The 39 Steps, Herron's fine writing makes it all work quite well. First in the four-volume Zoe Boehm series, though Zoe is somewhat a minor character through most of the book. Herron is a seriously underrated novelist.
  bfister | Mar 24, 2012 |
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Oxford housewife Sarah is in the terminal stages of the dinner party from hell, forced upon her by her would-be financial whizkid Mark, when the house down the road explodes, killing the two adults therein; their small daughter, however, escapes unscathed . . . only shortly thereafter to disappear off the face of the earth as if she'd never existed. Sarah, diagnosed by one of her husband's obnoxious dinner guests that evening as suffering from Bored Housewife Syndrome, takes it upon herself to try to track down the child, little realize that she's taking on one of the UK's nastiest covert divisions, a group largely manned by sociopaths that's charged with clearing up the messes made by the security services by "disappearing" people and the truth alike. Doggedly persistent, Sarah dodges death through a combination of naivety, luck and simple goodheartedness even as the bodies pile up around her. In so doing she gradually unravels the horrific crimes the UK government is committing supposedly in the name of that country's citizens.

This was a book slow to start, and the tedium was barely helped by the author's frequent habit of using cheap narrative tricks to pull the wool over the reader's eyes -- as example, we're made to believe at first it was Sarah's house that exploded and then, gasp, a few pages later it's revealed with a sort of arch cackle that, no, the text was ambiguous and really it was the nearby house that went bang. That's cheating, in my opinion. (I've committed this crime myself on occasion, but I educated myself out of it years ago.) This sort of smartassery continues all through the book; late on, there's an example of it that's supposed to offer a fiendishly cunning twist whose stupidity is revealed when you ask yourself: How would you film this? You couldn't, of course, because the twist wouldn't work if you could actually see what was going on. Even so, after its sluggish start the narrative really does pick up a compelling head of steam; the pages started turning at a blurring speed. I'm still not certain if this adequately compensated for the irritation I felt over the artificiality of those "cheats". ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
A woman who is realizing her marriage is a sham grows obsessed with the fate of a small child who has disappeared after being rescued from a house that exploded, killing her mother. Meanwhile, a soldier deployed to the middle east is witness to some horrifying form of chemical warfare, but when he tries to escape a hospital where he is incarcerated and being treated by an uncommunicative staff, he catches a glimpse of a landscape that looks very much like home. While the rollicking story is a bit of Desperate Housewives meets The 39 Steps, Herron's fine writing makes it all work quite well. First in the four-volume Zoe Boehm series, though Zoe is somewhat a minor character through most of the book. Herron is a seriously underrated novelist.
  bfister | Mar 24, 2012 |
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