Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Clouded Vision

It's high time I caught up on my Canadian Book Challenge reviews. I have been reading (thank you, hour-long commute!) but I just haven't made the time to write my reviews. I've got four books to review (and another two to read) and I've got the time now, so those reviews will be coming fast and furious.

The first in my backlog is Clouded Vision, a novella by Linwood Barclay. I used to read Barclay regularly when he was a columnist with the Toronto Star and when he left to pursue a writing career, well, I didn't follow. This is the first of his fiction offerings I've read. He has done quite well for himself, achieving international success with his crime books and I believe he's carved out his own niche for suburban crime thrillers.

So I felt kind of bad when I didn't like Clouded Vision.

I do like the novella as a format: longer than a short story, shorter than a novel but still enough to provide a good read. One of my favourite novellas is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King, which was later adapted into one of my favourite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Just because a novella is shorter doesn't mean it can't produce a good story.

Clouded Vision does have an interesting story: a young woman, Keisha, pretends to by psychic to help people, all the while charging $1,000 for her "skills". She goes to the house of a man whose wife is missing to give him "clues" and make a quick buck. Of course, things go terribly, horribly, awfully wrong.

There are some interesting twists, I'll give it that. The story sticks to the night when Keisha is pulling her scam, with a few flashbacks for context. The only characters in the story are necessary ones and the plot moves along quickly (though being a novella, there's no time to dilly-dally).

It's hard for me to pinpoint what exactly I didn't like about this book. The only reason I've kept thinking about it is because I have to review it. And I didn't feel any desire to pick up another book by Barclay; in fact I felt the opposite. I don't want to read more of his books, which makes me sad because I love me a good crime thriller and I love supporting Canadian authors. But this story just felt...flat.

I have no doubt that many people will read this and enjoy it and pick up other books by Barclay and enjoy them. I just won't be one of them.

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