Friday, May 06, 2011

Enforcer: my first bad black library book

I'm sure there are fans of this book out there, nay, I know there are fans. It's rated well enough on Amazon (though only 9 reviews) and a little less so on GoodReads.
Unfortunately fans, I am not one of you.

This is an omnibus, a 3 book gathering of the heroine Shira Calpurnia. I did not make it into the second book. I slogged through the first book, as I'm one of those people who doesn't like not finishing a book they've started. I'll tell you this for free, this was very nearly the first time I broke that compulsion.

I've inhaled my way through a merely a small percentage of the Black Library. I relished Eisenhorn and Ravenor, loved all 9 Felix and Gotrek's. I've read a bunch of Gaunts Ghosts, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Ciaphas Cain. The list goes on, but only for a little bit longer.

So, back to Calpurnia. I like the planetary details, I like the fact there's no obvious big bad chaos guy in the book. I dislike the pace of the story, I seriously disliked the start of each chapter describing the religious mumbo jumbo of each festival day - was too tedious. I was expecting a murder mystery style book, or at least a mystery book. It's not here I'm afraid. So I think worst of all, was how the story developed. Not through solving any clues, but through complete reaction to things happening. Calpurnia is like a Maxwell Smart or Mr.Bean type character in that sense. Towards the end of the story she starts jumping to the correct conclusions, with no clues or reasons as to why. If she didn't, she'd 'lose' as it were. The story had written itself into an impasse where if the bad guys didn't lead her on by the nose, there were no more clues to follow, so BAM, deus ex machina.

I wish I had written this sooner after finishing the book so I could give you actual examples. As it is the book is at the bottom of the charity bag, and I have no inclination to dig it out, let alone open it's pages again.

I think each chapter of the book could be summarised like so:

  1. alert! something happened here, go to scene/site
  2. at scene: 
    1. authority
      1. buck authority
      2. establish authority over some planetary element that isn't the Arbites
    2. give local a bad time and be considered rude by local customs
    3. some small action scene
  3. go back to base and ruminate about the strange/silly local customs
  4. go to #1
I'm sorry Mr. Farrer, I didn't like your book.

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