Only the Innocent – Rachel Abbott

After reading a few quite serious books, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, I felt like something lighter. My default genre in those situations is crime, and I do have quite a big backlog on my Kindle. I found I had another book by Rachel Abbott. I read here And So It Begins just before the lockdown kicked in, while I was in Tenerife (only a few months, but feels like a world away). I did not enjoy the book too much, so you may ask me why would I read another one of hers? It certainly is a good question, and the only explanation I can give is this weird thing, almost a form of OCD I have, I just need to clean things up. So if there was another book by Rachel Abbott on my Kindle, it had to be read and duly removed. The frightening thing I have have a ton of bad crime fiction on my Kindle, from ages ago when I was still falling prey to their daily deals… oh well, all in due course.

I will resort to Goodreads blurb for the plot summary:

Women are rarely cold blooded killers. But when famous philanthropist Hugo Fletcher is found dead, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the killer is a woman. And it is clear from the precision of the planning that this was no crime of passion. It was an execution.

The victim was revered the world over for his charitable work with trafficked Eastern European prostitutes, and as at least one of these girls is missing, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is certain that there has to be a connection.

But nothing is as it appears on the surface. A web of complex relationships is gradually revealed and it seems that everybody has something to hide. As each horrific secret is exposed, Tom Douglas begins to realise that this is much more than a simple murder case. And he has a terrible dilemma to face – whether to punish the guilty, or protect the innocent.

It doesn’t even sound so bad. But it is. We have a brave, divorced detective. The harmed wife of the victim, hiding a secret. A victim who is perceived to be a saint, and obviously therefore cannot be one. And the family of the wife loitering around. None of them feels like a real person, not even like a type, they’re just empty shells. The letters written by the wife to her friend Imogen are some of the worst writing I’ve seen in ages. Like teenage diary gone wrong, bad.

The plot drags and makes little sense, all hanging on the mysterious horrible sexual proclivities of the deceased and his obsession with control. Guess where it all comes from? I’m sure you got it right

At one point the brave detective makes himself dinner, and for who knows what reason we get a complete recipe, with cooking guidelines. Whyyyyyy? But in case you want to try it out here it is:

Pouring himself a glass of Pinot Noir, he placed a pan of water on the hob to boil, and put a drop of olive oil into a deep sauté pan. Grabbing a pack of ready chopped pancetta from the fridge he tossed it into the olive oil until it began to sizzle. He halved some ripe cherry tomatoes, ripped some basil up, and added some pasta to the pan of boiling water.

[…] The timer pinged, and he got to his feet to add the tomatoes to the pancetta for the last couple of minutes. On automatic pilot he added a couple of turns of black pepper, then added the drained pasta to the sauté pan with a bit more oil and the ripped basil. Tipping it straight onto the plate, he quickly grated some Parmesan

Nothing wrong with the recipe itself, but do I have to read it in crime fiction?

There is a lot wrong with the dialogue. It really gets annoying quickly and makes you wonder who even talks like that. I re-read Stephen King’s On Writing just before this book, so I may have been particularly peaky. Here’s a sample, judge for yourself. Brave detective’s ex-wife talks with him.

There was no need for that, Tom. But I am really sorry that I was so shallow. I should have appreciated your qualities, and shouldn’t have been taken in by nothing more than attention and compliments. I know now that you are by far the better man.

I think that’s enough said. An utter waste of time and space. Avoid at all cost!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s