Saturday 16 January 2016

Book Review: The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes

I usually try to write only positive book reviews.  I well know how much work goes into writing a book and I appreciate the effort and angst it takes to put yourself out there.  However, Grimes is hailed as a bestselling author and I think she has likely enjoyed enough of the riches and rewards of actually making money from her writing to undergo closer inspection.  Besides, if she is such a bestselling author, she will likely never read this.
From Goodreads
It took until the middle of the book before I knew what the book was about.  I thought Grimes was a mystery writer and I kept waiting for the mystery.  When there was still no murder well into the book, I reread the reviews and book summary on the book cover and was told this was a satire.  Hmmm.  Really?  This is not how I picture satire.
Why are two of the main characters named Candy and Cindy?  This is too confusing.  Why would two hitmen decide to play jokes on an agent instead of killing him?  They are paying money to play these jokes, but who is going to pay them?  There are way too many characters and they all have weird names.  I thought Martha Grimes wrote mystery books.  There is no mystery here, unless you count the mystery of the point of the book.  It was also unclear that this is a sequel.  Would it have made more sense if I’d read Foul Matter?  I’m not willing to find out.
I don’t think it’s fair that Grimes got paid to publish this book.  Sure, she should be free to write a book that imagines torturing an agent she doesn’t like, but no one else should have to read it.  The world of publishing she describes seems archaic.  It felt like she has only seen such a world through old movies and books.  She also made far too many references to old films and books I've never heard of.  Do they actually exist?
I enjoyed the scene with writer, Cindy Sella, trying to dance at a club/ rave as well as her inability to get her main character out of the car.  I was actually briefly interested in her relationship with Joe Blythe, but this was only fleeting and I returned to my attitude of disbelief and annoyance as soon as that short connection ended.
The book was also filled with awkward sentences.  Here are a couple of examples: p. 267  “The faux smile, like that of a hitchhiker hoping you’d stop for poor her so she could climb in the car and thrust the knife between your shoulder blades –"   p. 270  “While he stuffed his shirt into his pants, he stared out of the window at the Allegheny River streaked with September sunlight; the Sixth Street Bridge, one of the several that spanned the Allegheny River; and PNC Park, so perfectly positioned in its basin that it looked done by a master landscaper.”  I can forgive awkward sentences in writers who cannot afford editors, but I expect more from a "bestselling author".  Forgive my rant, we should all have to opportunity to write in different genres.  But to be paid to publish them, there must be a higher standard.

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