Book: Crossbones Yard
Author: Kate Rhodes
Summary: Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London - it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing - until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard. The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer - and the danger to her and the people she cares about - may already be closer than she ever imagined. With gripping suspense and a terrific new heroine, Kate Rhodes’s Crossbones Yard introduces a powerful new voice in crime fiction. - St. Martin’s Press, 2012.
I’ll be honest. The summary of the book is more exciting than the book itself. I’ll try and be kind in my assessment since this is a debut novel. I’ll explain my comment below.
I believe I picked this up in Bar Harbor, ME. I try and support as many independent bookstores as possible, so whenever I find one I try and buy a book there. There’s so few of them these days.
Anyway, I didn’t like this book. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. This story has no life. It has no blood. Alice is so numb to everything that it makes you wonder why she even participates in the story at all. She’s antisocial, she complains a lot, and she barely even does her job. It’s not a mystery as much as a life piece. You spend more time with her running through London, than actually spending time on the actual mystery. What’s worse, Alice doesn’t change. She doesn’t grow or develop. She may understand her brother a bit better, but she is still the same person she was at the beginning of the book. She’s extremely defensive and doesn’t let anyone in, not even the reader.
I understand that most of that is because of her past and I’m not trying to belittle her or make her less of a person. I know there is a psychology behind her, it’s just lacking a lot. She needs to care more and she doesn’t. Having an emotionless character doesn’t exactly reap the satisfaction you might want out of the story. I cared more about the side characters than I did about Alice.
The mystery itself is alright. It reminds me of something you might see on Criminal Minds or CSI. I never felt any particular sense of fear or danger because I never felt it from Alice. It’s passable; a good start for someone just entering the mystery genre.
Unless you have been in London before or live in London, you won’t be able to visualize the setting that well. Rhodes describes it well enough so that if you googled it, you probably would be able to see what she is describing. Otherwise, you’re left to your own devices.
The worst thing though, was that Rhodes used too many analogies. Every single chapter had at least three to four analogies. It was very distracting and very annoying. It’s one of the reasons why I ultimately didn’t like this book. It’s also the sign of an immature writer and why I wasn’t surprised when I saw that this was her debut novel. If she publishes any other novels, I hope she cuts back on the analogies. I’ve read that she’s going to make a series with her Alice Quentin character so I can only hope there’s more life in the character in future novels.
I won’t be reading more of Rhodes’s works.
I give Crossbones Yard a C+.
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Thanks for reading!