Thursday, 19 July 2012

"The Dead Won't Sleep," by Anna Smith

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

After being briefly distracted by books about pubs or werewolves, I decided to return to the books in my pile of review copies.  I thought that I would revisit my primary genre of choice - crime.

Anna Smith's novel is set in urban Glasgow.  It is an unusual read for me: I tend to prefer the mystery and detection sub-genre of crime, and Anna Smith starts the novel "Columbo" style by showing us the insalubrious circumstances of a young girl's death.  This isn't a whodunnit - instead Smith's plot hinges on the efforts of dogged, dedicated journalist Rosie Gilmour to expose the corruption behind the crime and on the lengths the perpetrators go to in order to conceal their role in her fate.

By rights, I shouldn't have liked this book - but I did.  I prefer the mental challenges of a whodunnit to the action of a thriller, and yet I still enjoyed this.  I don't tend to like gritty realism in my reading.  If I want depressing realism, I can watch the news or read true crime (which I personally dislike as it creeps me out and, to me, feels morally suspect and borderline exploitative).  I read to be entertained and to escape, so the brittle, hard-edged urban world of prostitution and drugs in Smith's novel should have put me off - yet it didn't.

Here's the main reason I enjoyed the novel despite the reasons why I expected not to be drawn in - Rosie Gilmour.  Smith's main character is engaging, vulnerable yet determined, and I cared what happened to her.  There is a fragile, burgeoning romance in the novel and I was behind Rosie all the way in wanting things to work out for her (I won't give away the outcome).

I have discovered that there is a further book by Anna Smith featuring Rosie Gilmour - "To Tell the Truth" - which I am eager to get my hands on so that I can find out what Rosie did next.

Thank you to Quercus Books for sending me a review copy of this book.  It took me a while to get the chance to catch up on reading it, but I am glad that I did.

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