I have been really lucky in the books that I have chosen for review, I have pretty much liked them all. Well, my lucky streak has come to an end. Prime Suspect had all the elements that I should have loved: woman detective trying to prove herself in a man's world and gruesome murders. However, it did not work for me.
The story: Jane Tennison takes over a Scotland Yard investigation of grisly murder of Della Mornay. She is hampered by the old boy's club mentality of the Yard. She immediately discovers and error that the previous, much-loved investigator had made, which only makes her fellow officers like her even less.
The mystery part of the novel is fairly solid, with some twists and turns that kept me guessing.
What ruined it for me were the characters. I did not like a single character. They were all the same: mean, nasty, temperamental, with fits of sudden mood changes. They would be in the middle of some rant, and then shrug their shoulders and giggle or laugh. Everything they said was shouted in anger or excitement; on one page I counted 11 exclamation marks.
I found myself questioning so much that the characters did or said.
This is from a police officer at the location where the murders took place: "This is caked in blood, we'll need swabs of it all. Ugh, the drain's clogged with it and this looks like skin…Jesus, the stench!"
Ugh?! I can not imagine a male police officer saying ugh.
In another setting, Tennison is in an interrogation room questioning someone. Suddenly another police officer bursts in and leans over and whispers in her ear that they have found another body, Tennison has this response: "Feeling a bit perkier, Tennison turned back to Reg."
Feeling a bit perkier?! Seriously? They have just discovered another body, and the investigating officer is "feeling a bit parker"?? At this point I can't tell what I don't like…the author's choice of words (perkier) or the type of character who would feel perkier at this news. It all runs together.
In another chapter, Tennison is at the morgue. There is a brutally murdered girl on the table, the medical examiner is there, and the stench is so bad that Tennison is wearing a mask. They discuss the body, at the end: "She smiled and winked at Norman as she removed her mask. "You'll call me with anything I can quote? And…thanks for coming out to Sunningdale. Bye!"
Smiled and winked?! Someone is always smiling and winking, and half the time I can't even figure out why. The whole "thanks for coming out…bye" sounds like something you'd say to a guest at a party, not to the medical examiner at the morgue.
I could go on, but I will stop here. As I said, the mystery itself was solid, I just wish the characters had been more diverse with believable dialogue.
Now, I had already been lined up to review Prime Suspect 2: A Face in the Crowdand just from glancing through it, it looks better, or at least I don’t see all the exclamation marks.
You can find other reviews here. Usual disclaimer – I received no compensation for this review, other than a copy of the book. My opinions are entirely my own (obviously!).