fredag den 4. juni 2010

Joanne Harris, Gentlemen & Players (2005)

This novel should have been a real treat for me. A British whodunit which takes place in an old boys´ school, and a plot involving a fifteen-year-old grudge.

And I liked the environment, the plot idea and to some extent the ending. I have some reservations, however.

First, in my opinion it is confusing (and quite unnecessary) to have two first-person narrators: the Latin teacher Roy Straitley, and the murderer who felt excluded from the posh school as a child and now wants to take revenge because of this old grudge.

Second, the only character who really made an impression on me was the old Latin teacher. The others, teachers as well as school boys - including the murderer - seemed more like chess pieces in the game Ms Harris has set up than real people.

Third, the book reminded me too much of a riddle of the kind: a school employs five new teachers, Light, Meek, Easy, Dare and Keane [sic]. Who is the French teacher, the English teacher, the geography teacher, the murderer etc. So all the way through, the writer spends her energy on scattering clues rather than making the most of the interesting environment or giving us a really exciting drama. A puzzle mystery, but not as engaging as it could have been, and the final twist was not such a great surprise to me.

And as the drama unfolds and one teacher after the other is suspected and accused of various derelictions of duty and even crime, why does no one suspect that they have a Trojan horse in their midst? Well, if you love guessing at who did it, this might be something for you.

It will be very easy to find enthusiastic reviews of this library book, but there are people who share my view: see Bernadette´s review.

Joanne Harris, Dobbeltspil (2007)

Denne britiske krimi, som udspiller sig i en drengeskole fuld af gamle traditioner, burde have været en stor nydelse for mig, især pga plottet: hævn over en femten år gammel uret.

Jeg satte også pris på miljøet, plotideen og til en vis grad slutningen, men jeg har visse forbehold.

For det første er det efter min mening forvirrende (og fuldstændig unødvendigt) at have to jeg-fortællere: latinlæreren Roy Straitley, og morderen, som følte sig holdt uden for den fornemme skole som barn, og nu vil tage hævn.

For det andet var latinlæreren den eneste person, som gjorde indtryk på mig. De andre, lærere såvel som skoleelever – inklusiv morderen – mindede mere om skakbrikker end virkelige personer.

For det tredje mindede bogen mig alt for meget om en gåde af typen: en skole ansætter fem nye lærere, Light, Meek, Easy, Dare og Keane. Hvem er fransklærer, engelsklærer, geografilærer, morder osv. Så hele vejen gennem bogen bruger forfatteren sin energi på at strø små hints ud, i stedet for at få mest muligt ud af et spændende miljø, eller skabe et rigtig spændende drama. En puslespilskrimi, men ikke nær så fængslende, som den kunne have været, og den overraskende slutning kom ikke rigtigt bag på mig.

Og mens dramaet udvikler sig, og den ene lærer efter den anden bliver mistænkt for pligtforsømmelser og endda grove forbrydelser, hvorfor er der så ingen, som fatter mistanke om, at der er en trojansk hest på spil? Men hvis du går meget op i at gætte, hvem morderen er, så er bogen måske noget for dig.

Det er let at finde begejstrede anmeldelser af denne biblioteksbog, men der er dog læsere, som er enige med mig: se Bernadettes anmeldelse.

10 kommentarer:

Bernadette sagde ...

It's so annoying when you expect to enjoy a book but end up not liking it all that much isn't it? Oh well, hope you have a better book next up on the pile.

Anonym sagde ...

Dorte - I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this book more than you did *sigh*. What a shame. Well, like Bernadette, I hope you enjoy the next one you read more : ).

Kelly sagde ...

It's been a couple of years since I read this book, but I do remember I enjoyed it... not that I can pinpoint why in particular. I don't recall being terrible surprised by the "twist" at the end, either.

Still, I found it entertaining and didn't feel like it had been a waste of my time.

Hope you enjoy your next one more!

Dorte H sagde ...

Bernadette and Margot: oh, don´t worry about me - I have a few ´Maxine temptations´ ready for my summer holidays. Right now I am trying my library discoveries in between preparing exams.

Kelly: it wasn´t terribly bad or anything. What annoyed me was that she seemed to think her twist was so fantastic (so perhaps she has not read enough crime fiction before she tried writing it herself).

Felicity Grace Terry sagde ...

I've read several Joanna Harris but not this one. Somehow I think I won't now bother.

Dorte H sagde ...

Tracy: I didn´t intend to discourage people from reading her books (though of course that may happen when I write a critical review).

I know that lots of readers have enjoyed it very much, I just cannot recommend it without reservations as there were things that annoyed me all the way through.

Beth F sagde ...

shoot. The premise is good so I'm sorry to see that it wasn't the best match for you.

pattinase (abbott) sagde ...

This was a book that got such good reviews I expected to love it, but it never grabbed me and I didn't finish it.

Maxine Clarke sagde ...

I've never read Joanne Harris, somehow her books haven't appealed, despite rave reviews, films, etc. I can't say I am tempted now, in view of your review. I wonder if it is one of those cases of a "mainstream" author deigning to write "crime genre" but not being as original and clever as readers of the genre expect?

Your review reminds me of the plot of Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, another book I have not read (but actually have got!).

Dorte H sagde ...

Beth: perhaps it is partly because it is British that I had too great expectations.

Patti: so Bernadette and I are not the only ones.

Maxine: in my opinion your analysis is very precise. And I suspect SOME of the readers who rave about it do not read as much crime fiction as you and I.