There’s an intriguing story here — what’s not to like: Spain, Olympics, Nazis, Pablo Picasso, mystery, thriller…?
Sometimes, though, it felt as though it had not found its focus.
It started off slow, almost too slow and I was about to put the book down — but I plugged through. Most of my confusion stemmed from not understanding the characters and what their roles were. How an Olympics sports reporter got involved in the conspiracy plot is still a little confusing to me (and, sorry, I’m not interested in re-reading to try to understand). Part of me felt that it was intended all along, but another part felt that it started as a misunderstanding.
Although told in third person, the book seemed primarily focused on Richard Clare, the reporter, following him throughout. But occasionally there would be chapters in which Clare is not present, and it always felt awkward, as if author Skeet had changed voices. Picasso’s chapter was exciting and a delight to read, but it definitely felt as though it was written by a different author and part of a different story.
I really like the premise, but the characters started out a little unclear and developed in to stock characters living out a thriller novel plot rather than being real people. I did not bond with the main character, Richard Clare, and found him acting out of character… no… I take that back — I didn’t feel he had developed a consistent character. At times I want him to succeed; other times I thought he’d do a lot less whining if he were out of the picture; and sometimes I wondered just where the heck his motivation or drive came from because it hadn’t been there before.
I want to like this book much more than I did. With more then 200 books in my reviewing queue, I often pick those that look most interesting to me, so it’s extra disappointing when it doesn’t pan out.
Looking for a good book? This has all the makings but doesn’t quite get there.
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author: Mark Skeet
publisher: Troubador Publishing
paperback, 368 pages