Sunday, 19 February 2006

Barbara Vine, The Blood Doctor (Penguin, 2003)

This is quite simply an awful book. It needed a scalpel-wielding editor to be ruthless, for a start. It is a good 200 pages too long. And the excessive length is indicative of the lazy meandering writing. It's not that the idea isn't a good one. It isn't bad. Though it isn't great. No. It's the bad writing. Why is crime fiction often written so badly, especially when plots take lots of thinking and sometimes even a bit of cleverness?
And why bother writing novels of the same genre under a pseudonym? Barbara Vine is the pseudonym of Ruth Rendell, but Ruth Rendell is a crime writer, and Barbara Vine is a...crime writer. I can understand, say, if someone is a poet and a novelist: those two don't seem to mix that comfortably (think of David Harsent, for example). But why write crime novels under two names?

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