Thursday 20 March 2014

One Man's Opinion: THE RIVERMAN by ALEX GRAY

The Riverman is an old guy who is charged with the responsibility of fishing out the bodies from Glasgow’s Clyde. You might not think there’d be much for him to do, but when a serious problem is discovered in a major accountancy firm he becomes a very busy man.

There’s a lot to like about this book and there a few things that counted against it for me.

Essentially the plot is interesting and the characters are all well sketched out. There’s an element of suspense under the surface and this sometimes rises to really grip.

There are also a lot of strands to the book that, while enjoyable in their own way, seem to interrupt the flow of the police investigation and the various adventures that some of the population are involved in. A couple of cases in point concern the main women in the novel. Both of them seem interesting, but the biggest concern they have centres around questions relating to their partners’ fidelity. For me it did them a disservice on the one hand and the book on the other, given that these strands lacked tension. Alongside this, the narrative is divided into a large numbers of points of view and this didn’t really work for me. It’s as if a rather good piece of literary fiction and a pretty good police procedural have become tangled up and lack the necessary symbiosis to fully carry this off.

The main investigating characters are rather engaging. They come in the form of William Lorimer, the Chief Inspector, and the psychologist Solly Brightman. The pair work reasonably well together, but I’d be happier if there was a stronger bonding at the book’s heart.

Glasgow feels like one of the characters, as does the river in question. This was a real strength for me.

I enjoyed this enough to get to the end and can imagine a good number of readers lapping up the quality of the writing. Suck it and see.

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