Friday, February 20, 2015

Sausage Hall - Christina James

I feel a little bit bad about this book; it's a review copy which I just haven't been able to get in with. It sounded good enough to say a definite yes please too and different enough from my normal reading choice to make an entertaining change but at about half way, and after a good week of plodding through it I've given up.

After a break in at the home of a wealthy business man some fake passports come to light, when the police make further investigations they also find 3 skeletons down in the cellar though they turn out to be old enough to have nothing to do with the current owner, another dead body in the woods at Sandringham wearing cloths that associate the victim with the same business further muddies the waters. Add to this a set of painful family circumstances for the De Vries family and some uneasy relationships with their employees and the stage us well and truly set. Unravelling the De Vries story, the mystery of the bodies in the cellar, and solving the current murder adds up to the sort of multi stranded story I generally enjoy.

I skipped to the end so have a good idea of what happened - at least 2 of the strands resolve satisfactorily, the historic case which I was most intrigued by veered off in a direction that left me cold (I won't give spoilers) though there's no reason why another reader wouldn't  enjoy it.

This is the second book this year that I've found myself having a total lack of chemistry with, it's not badly written, the plotting is clever, but I have no sympathy at all with the characters and that in turn makes me picky about James' style. There are details which felt over explained (too many 'as you knows' and 'as I said's') and probably because it's part if a series, a lot of incidental stuff about characters whom I expect will matter more in subsequent instalments but which is distracting if you're not invested in the series, and just generally that lack of chemistry which would have made any little niggles feel irrelevant.

What did stand out, and what I skimmed through the rest of the book for was to work out the relationship between the De Vries family which was both complex and convincing. In the end this one wasn't for me though, I'll be sticking with the British Library crime classics - territory I'm more comfortable in.


  1. I enjoyed In the Family...but Almost Love elicited the same response you describe: a sense of the book being plotted with no heart to it...

  2. I didn't check how many others she'd written, I should have. There were things I really liked and which made me carry on past the half way mark but it was turning into a chore which isn't fair on the book so it seemed wise to leave it be.