Friday, September 12, 2014

Murder on the Run by Medora Sale

I think that there is something to be said for switching perspectives in a novel, but it is a choice that can be screwed up when one is not a good writer, and I think that was part of the problem with this book. Medora Sale seems to be a technically competent writer but could have constructed a much more compelling story by sticking with one protagonist throughout.

The story is a forgettable tale of a series of rapes and murders of female joggers in various parks and ravines around Toronto, with one murder mixed in that doesn't quite fit the pattern. John Sanders is the police detective investigating the murders, who stumbles into some much bigger questions once the teacher, Jane Conway, is killed and it doesn't look to be the work of the park rapist.

As John and his partner Dubinsky investigate, we also get a little peek into the world of Eleanor, a real-estate agent who is John's love interest; the girls' school where the teacher worked; the strange world of Jane Conway that seems to consist of a lot of drugs and partying; and the disturbing mind of the actual park rapist. The author is clearly trying to only give us a little bit of information in each of these pockets of the story, so that the whole thing will unravel slowly, but there is nothing compelling about the mystery, honestly. At no point did I feel really worried that anyone important was in danger, or curious about who killed Jane.

I'm not sure what it is about this book that makes it so dull compared to other mysteries. It is a police procedural, a genre which generally holds some interest for me, but it sort of plods along in a somewhat predictable way and there really never feels like there is any risk involved.

I also had a hard time with how little background the reader is given for the Eleanor/John relationship. I felt like perhaps there was an earlier book in the John Sanders series that I would have to read to understand what was going on here, which is sloppy - a quick paragraph explaining where we're at in this relationship is not hard to include and would really help the reader to be emotionally involved with the characters. As it was I could take or leave that whole plotline.

The use of Toronto was good, and I liked the ongoing placement of where we actually were in the city at that point in the story.

Overall I wouldn't be compelled to read this author again and I'm pretty sure I will soon forget this book, so I'm giving it two CN Towers out of five.

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