Gathering Evidence - Martin MacInnes

Gathering Evidence - Martin MacInnes

A very impressive hardback package for £12.99: other publishers could learn a lot from the physical presentation of this book.

I got off on the wrong footing with this book and didn’t really recover. For me it was far too much like hard work for fiction: it was like reading two interlinked diaries. Actually, that in itself is a bit of a back-handed compliment, as there was obviously an awful lot of background work put in about the various topics involved. I actually learned things from the book and it sent me scurrying for the internet on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, I like my fiction a little less diary-like and a bit more escapist.

The first section of the book, just nineteen pages, completely threw me, and I didn’t really recover from it. I struggled to make sense of it, and after two attempts gave up. Had this not been a review book, I’d have given up on it there and then and it would have found its way to the local charity shop. However, I ploughed on with the rest of the book still fretting about what I simply didn’t understand.

I thought it was because of the first 19 pages that I didn’t get on with this book, I was wrong. The second section (approx 200 pages) did nothing to redeem things. I found only 3 or 4 pages mildly engaging. The third and final section did nothing to clear things up and frankly, I’m left questioning what the whole book was all about. - I truthfully have little idea.

The book is set a little in the future which initially comes across a little like Orwell’s 1984. The two main characters are John and Shel, who are parted due to her going on a trip to investigate why a couple of Bonobo apes have been found dead in a nature reserve, whilst he’s staying at home looking at doing up a home they’re planning on moving into.

Whilst Shel is away, John is attacked at the home he’s doing up. I never did find out by whom, or why.

The author is incredibly skilled at descriptive writing and really describes everything in the minutest of detail. Think John Updike, but much, much drier. To be honest, such detailed description irked me. I don’t want, nor need it in a work of fiction. I like to be given the bare bones of the story and let my imagination fill in the detail. It’s the detail that the author goes into that gives things the feel of a badly written, self-indulgent, diary. It just doesn’t work for me.

As usual, I’ve read the reviews that others have written: I find I’m completely out of kilter with them in my views. I can only conclude that this is a case of the Emperor’s new clothes. Either that or maybe I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own?

I’m only going to run to one anchor with this. I’d award zero had it not been for the odd fact that I picked up along the way.

Apologies to all concerned, as I know there's a lot involved in writing and publishing a book and I mean nothing personal to anyone involved in the process. This book simply just didn't sit right with me.