Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Memory Game by Nicci French

I'll preface this review by noting that I have enjoyed Nicci French's other novels immensely, and have always considered French's books as auto buys (or auto-borrows) as the case may be. French's novels have always been, in my opinion anyway, well written and quite gripping and suspenseful. Which was why I was dismayed to find myself growing quite bored with The Memory Game very quickly. What was going on here?

While working on an extension to her ex-husband's family home, architect Jane Martello is shocked when the workers unearth human remains in the garden. But her shock soon turns to grief when the realisation hits home that the remains are of her best friend, Natalie Martello, who went missing 25 years ago, and that Natalie was pregnant at the time of her murder. Grief-stricken, Jane decides to channel her energy into discovering who murdered Natalie and why, even going so far as to seek psychiatric help to unlock some long suppressed memories of the fateful day that Natalie went missing...

The main trouble with The Memory Game was that it lacked energy and continuity. This is especially fatal when the storyline is a very familiar and oft used one. The book was simply all over the place -- there were too many subplots and the subplot involving Natalie and her mysterious disappearance sometimes got lost as it jostled for attention with these other subplots. As a result that atmosphere of suspense and tension you would expect of a really good mystery novel was quite absent, in my opinion. Another factor that detracted was that there were (literally) too may characters, and not all of them were really necessary to this novel at all. Obviously, this was French's first novel, and equally obviously, French has gone on to write much, much more exciting and compelling novels. As a fan, I wonder about French's publisher decision to republish this plodding and not very exciting novel

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