Nick Page

Bedside Reading #4 Kathy Reichs: Cross Bones

Started reading this as kind of research, because one of the books I’m working on at the moment is a thriller. But I’ve given up. Firstly it’s based around the Talpiot tomb and the claims by Tabor and others and the moment that comes in I struggle to take it seriously. More annoying, though, is the clunkiness of the prose and the formulaic nature of the book. The one line paragraphs. The bite-szed chapters with their ‘cliff hanger’ endings. The points where she regurgitates facts or technical terms to show us that She’s Done Her Research. Here’s a representative bit from p.115:

In the course of my research I learned several things.

In 1098 C.E. a renewal movement began within Benedictine monasticism, at the monastery in Citeaux, in central France. The idea was to restore, as far as possible, the literal observance of the rule of aint Benedict. I never learnt what that meant.

The Latin word for Citeaux is Cistercium and those who signed on for the reform movement came to be known as Cistercians.

Today there are several orders within the Cistercians, one of which is the OCSO, Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. Trappist, the nickname for the OCSO, came from another reform movement at another French monastery, La Trappe, in the seventeenth century.

This is a woman who has mastered the use of wikipedia. And she’s mastered the thesaurus as well. When thriller writers want to persuade us that they are really grown-up proper novelists they use lots of posh words.

Though unmentioned on the occasion of our Yuletide exchange, I’d quickly noted Charlie’s unorthodox repertoire noir. Upon questioning, Ryan had admitted that our feathered darling came to him via a vice squad raid on a female enterprise. The ladies’ taste had been lusty and the bird had been absorbed. For months I’d been working to redirect Charlie’s musical and oratorical talents. With mixed results.

See? Our heroine is clearly a complex character because she owns a parrot. And a cat. And she knowns a lot of big words. How much more characterisation do you need?

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