Monday, 10 March 2014

The Demon of Dakar by Kjell Eriksson

The clouds slid lazily down behind the mountain on the other side of the valley.

Setting and weather. Unless this is the sequel to The Clouds by Aristophanes which pokes fun of intellectual fashions in classical Athens, and even if it is, this does not hook, and there is no reason to assume there's anyone in the world this sentence would hook, not even meteorologists would be interested, as after a hard day at work making wrong forecasts about the weather, the last thing a meteorologist would want to do is come home, sit down to relax with a book that begins with more clouds.

But there's more. You won't believe this but the whole first page about 400 words or so is about clouds. Explaining clouds that gather nourishment and moisture, shifting indolently. The only good thing about this cloudy opening is that throughout this exposition on clouds, there is a character musing about clouds. The only hope this opening has is that clouds play an important role in the mystery of this novel. In the worst case scenario the clouds are a metaphor for something. If so, beginning with a clouded metaphor is a red flag.

First thing said:

"Make sure you don't lead her astray."

Verdict: Epic fail

Call me old fashioned, but mystery novels need to begin with a mystery or crime or puzzle to hook me.

Theodore Moracht

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