I've read many Dick Francis books and always enjoy them. He is such a goodcraftsmen that even his lesser works, such as this, can be mildly enjoyable. Here the awkward plot twists and coincidences strain belief. The most interesting part for me was Francis' introduction where he explains that the elements of this story, and especilly the technical details about painting, came from a vacation he had in Australia. It's interesting to see how an acomplished author can mine these everyday experiences for book material. He didn't find gold but the gems are semi-precious.
I have long been a fan of Grafton's and loved her earlier work. I'm afraid she has run out of steam though, and this book was a disappointment. A third of this book could have been edited out and the impact would have been positive - the pace would have been improved and we would have been spared from spending so much time with these uninteresting people. Thrillers often sacrifice character development for plot. If the plot is sizzling the character development won't be missed. (Dan Brown, anyone?) Here, plot is sacrificed for backstory. The mystery isn't very mysterious and the characters who are new to this story are all pretty annoying. On a more positive note: Terrific job, as usual, from Judy Kaye the reader.
I love Dan Brown, but I am afraid he has worn out his single plot structure and overused his trusty narrative devices. He puts his same tools to use but to a much weaker effect. He's straining here and tries to cmpensate by adding more pages. He should take a break from the Langdon series and try something really new. Maybe a true crim book?
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