reading

4. All the Devils Are Here

First fiction read of the year! I have never read Louise Penny before, but one of my in-laws is evidently a big fan. It was fun to go from a history of the French language to a mystery set in Paris and heavily sprinkled with French.

That said, filing this one under “not my cup of tea.” I struggled a lot with the writing style for the first hundred pages; short paragraphs and heavy use of sentence fragments make me feel like I’m being jerked around by the punctuation.

[blah blah] she said. And waited. Expectantly.

I’m not a grammatical purist really, and I appreciate breaking the rules for stylistic effect, but doing so constantly is exhausting. It does lend a certain breathless feel to the prose, which may or not be a good idea in a book more than 400 pages long. I finished it in two days, though, so I suppose it functions. But still. Annoying.

There is also a lot of head-hopping–changing character perspectives within a single scene–which surprised me, as I think of that as an amateur thing. Maybe bestselling thriller authors can get away with it. Also, way too many instances where a character finds out something important and thinks “aha, I have found something important,” but we aren’t told what it actually is until several scenes later, when they tell another character about it. What is the point of having multiple character POVs if you’re not using them to communicate with the reader?

The story takes a surprisingly long time to get going, is very complicated, and much of the plot relies on technical details that are not, in fact, how things work. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a comic book, but given that the setting is so emphatically here-and-now (there are references to the Notre Dame fire), I found it distracting.

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