Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Book review: Do As I Say, by David Sterling

This book has a terrific plot, and would make a great movie. Sadly, however, the book itself is an abject failure. It is just too badly written to be at all enjoyable.

All of the usual suspects that, sadly, mar so many independently published novels, are present: misplaced apostrophes, homophone errors and 'lay' used intransitively, but this is not what really kills the book. The thing that made 'Do As I Say' such a completely missable experience was the weird flatness of the prose; the writer seems not to be able to distinguish between the importance of, say, a major break in his criminal investigation and the fact that someone turns on the taps before stepping into the shower. The monotone effect produced is oddly disconcerting, like the lifeless tones of a severe schizophrenic's voice.

The other major problem with the book was that it reads like a case report. I am not, in general, a fan of these 'golden rules' that abound nowadays - never use adverbs, and so on. But the overworked maxim 'show, don't tell' is in this case something this writer could well take on board; in fact, I should like to see him have it tattoed across his forehead.

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