Thursday, 30 January 2014

A Cry in the Night by Tom Grieves

published 2014








Sam knew it would be better for the case if Zoe asked the questions, but he also knew it would look odd to have a silent Senior Investigating Officer and, worst of all, he had no idea what Ashley might do. The nerves made him jumpy and he worried that Zoe would notice. He said little in the corridor as he tried to imagine various scenarios and how he would deal with them, but in the end he decided to brazen it out.

He’d avoided looking at Ashley and only paid attention to her now that she was in front of him. She’d changed since she’d been in his hotel room. Her white attire had been replaced with a baby-blue cashmere top, skinny jeans and cowboy boots. He introduced himself to her and she made him shake her hand. He could tell she was enjoying this game and it scared the hell out of him.



observations: A Cry in the Night left me bemused. Half the time I felt as though I had jumped into the middle of one of those long-running series with a pair of cops (in this case Sam and Zoe) bantering away, long history, unresolved sexual tension. But so far as I can tell, this isn’t the case: they were invented for this book. They behave in very strange ways, constantly subverting your expectations (I made a note 
‘???really?’ at one point over something Sam was doing, because it seemed so unprofessional.)

Sam and Zoe have come from the big city (Manchester) to the Lake District to investigate the disappearance of two children in a remote village, a place with a history of witch-burning. My favourite line in the whole book has the two cops discussing the case in his room at the pub:

‘They’ll be talking about us downstairs,’ Zoe said. ‘How long till this whole thing turns into the Wicker Man and they’re burning you at the stake?’
The book and the plot and the ending were all very confusing, and I couldn’t tell how much of that was deliberate. The final exposition is unbearably clunky (they overhear two people talking, saying in effect ‘so then you did this’). Zoe takes enormous offence at being called ‘love’, then seems not to notice when someone else does the same. There is a QC, ie barrister, who is apparently also a solicitor who turns up to bail people out from police stations. The tenant of a house instructs the agent ‘to put the house on the market with immediate effect.’ Apparently Grieves is an experienced TV writer, which makes all these things very surprising – I would expect such awkwardnesses from a novice writer.

I’m not convinced I really understood every aspect of the ending, how you were to take all the strange things that happened. But despite all this, it certainly kept me reading, and I liked the way it confounded me occasionally and wrong-footed me constantly, so I would give it a confused and cautious recommendation – if you like this kind of thing, then you’ll like this one.

The picture is from an American fashion blog.

More cowboy boots in this entry, skinny jeans here


12 comments:

  1. Moira - Hmmm...Not sure I'm up for something like that right now. Still, it does sound like an innovative story. And I do like the Lake District setting; it's so right for a murder mystery somehow. Oh, and I want that cashmere sweater.

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    1. I think this is an unusual case where detective fiction regulars will be a bit surprised and discomfited by the book - while people who come to it from outside probably think that's what crime stories are like. Does that make any sense at all...?

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    2. It absolutely does, Moira. Do you suppose that's because crime fiction regulars have gotten used to a certain kind of pattern? That's what occurs to me as I re-read your post and the comments.

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    3. Yes I think you're right, and sometimes we only realize we have those expectations when they are challenged. So maybe it's a good thing to have a jolt from time to time. I'm glad you could see what I mean!

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  2. Based on what I read here, I might like this book. But... don't have room for it on my list, so I will wait and see if it calls out to me some time in the future.

    I do love the image you used. Reminds me of paper dolls.

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    1. Yes I see what you mean about the paper dolls. Oh how I used to love those when I was small. I had a nice paper doll picture here http://clothesinbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/national-velvet-by-enid-bagnold_6.html
      I did enjoy the book, but I'm not quite telling everyone to read it asap...

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    2. Yes, I can tell you were not overly enthusiastic, so I can bide my time.

      I often played with paper dolls when I visited my grandmother and both were fond memories, so I am sentimental about them.

      Did you ever hear of Katy Keene comics? All focused on fashion. I wish I still had some of those.

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    3. No never heard of Katy Keene - I'm off to look that up now... I love the internet....

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    4. Oh my goodness, how fabulous she is - we had nothing like that in the UK, I would have loved those comics...

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    5. I had just looked her up myself to confirm my memory, and she was just as wonderful as I remember. A trip down memory lane.

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  3. Not one to trouble the embargo police.........back to my paper dolls!

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    1. I wish I could recommend this one more - in some ways it could be right up your street. But obv would have to be something v special to countenance breaking the embargo....

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