Top critical review
At a loss. Is this meant to be a mystery?
December 21, 2017
I am really sick of the many, many mysteries that have become best-sellers lately which don't have any suspense or mystery in them.
I feel like warning other people who love mystery not to bother -- unless you are quite forgiving and don't expect any real surprises or things that make sense.
So, SOME spoilers
The writing is flat, the characters are flat, but this didn't, at first deter me from reading it. Agatha Christie is not exactly a great prose writer, and she does manage to surprise the reader and to build interesting cliffhangers and plots.
About 50% into the book I was getting a bit fed up, because there was NOTHING happening. There were chapters ending with stuff like "She couldn't tell anyone what she knew" or "He had done something disgusting" -- not exactly this, but this kind of attempt to create suspense.
Well, if you do that, then DELIVER. Instead, it just kept going on, and on and on in the same vein, with us not finding anything else, just more of these from the same characters.
One girl has a problem with an abusive dad (GROAN) and thinks he may have something to do with her friend's disappearance -- resolved off page. The dad of the disappeared girl has such a big secret he almost kills himself in a barn. The secret turns out to be so pathetic that I got mad at having to read his thoughts for chapters and chapters. Then, shoot, maybe the girl isn't dead, and we have several chapters of EVERYONE looking at the TV at some police negotiation with a kidnapper.
But HEY, it isn't her. The way they saw that it isn't her is sooooo ridiculous that I laughed quite a bit.
In the meantime, chapters and chapters about the woman who saw the girls on the train but didn't tell the police they went off with young men because she couldn't decide if that was slutty, dangerous or normal. She is supposed to be the main character and she goes on and on and on and on about her flower shop.
Then about her son, who got his girlfriend pregnant.
NONE of this has any bearing on the mystery.
Then she hires a private detective because she is getting postcards saying "I'm watching you."
A lot about the detective, his pregnant wife, their baby being born. Not a lot of detecting. Oh, also the "standard police trauma" (he shot an innocent kid) being introduced late in the game and in a perfunctory manner.
There are some police people with a grudge against each other which means zilch to the investigation and changes nothing.
Clues that are not clues (just people acting strangely) are given chapters and chapters and chapters to then mean nothing and often get resolved off book.
About halfway into the story a POV in italics of the typical psycho ("I'm watching you...I don't like her to be watched...etc") gets introduced and is repeated in the same cliché way several times.
FINALLY, the mystery is solved in the MOST RIDICULOUS POSSIBLE WAY. Not through anyone figuring anything out, not by the several police that have been introduced or the private detective -- but because the flower lady SEES A PHOTO.
At this point I was covering my mouth in disbelief that any book that sells this much could be so awkward, badly written and unsurprising.
Just think of the worst, most awkward episode of one of these TV series about crime. It will be better than this, because it will, at least, be forced to have clues and real suspects.
I am AT A LOSS! Truly. I loved Gone Girl, I thought Girl on the Train was disappointing after 60%, this one was just a HUGE waste of time for anyone who truly loves mysteries and wants to follow clues, suspects and be surprised. If you're like that, give this a WIDE berth...