29 August 2014

A review of Julius Falconer Series: ‘The Spider’s Banquet’

For me, one of the main attractions of the: Who done it; is to pit my wits against the criminal investigators and attempt to anticipate who the perpetrator is, before they do.
Author Julius Falconer allows Police Inspector Stan Wickfield to tell the story in his own way, warts and all, even to the point of interacting directly with the reader, right through the story. I find this very appealing, especially as the inspector is not some soulless, over-promoted wonder-boy, but a conscientious thief-taker who expresses his own self-doubts and is not frightened or ashamed to seek advice from his sergeant.
As we proceed through the book, I get the impression we are all in it together, almost as if we were trying to interpret the clues to a complicated crossword puzzle. We understand the policeman’s frustrations, as he encounters each dead end and has to rethink his strategy.
Some crime, novelists work on a totally different level, with convoluted sentences and padded chapters, which bear no relation to the plot, causing me to cast down their books in disgust. Not so with this author. His writing is crisp and sharp and the story moves on at a fast pace. At no time does he telegraph the ending.
We are treated to an insight into the closed, meditative life of an abbey, and you wonder, why do monks want to shut themselves off from the world? What drives them to do it? I’ve visited one of the genuine monasteries the author refers to and watched the brothers toiling in the fields, so this story possessed an additional interest for me.
Inspector Morse might be dead and gone but Inspector Stan Wickfield lives on. It was a pleasure to read and I look forward to getting my teeth into the next one.
Harry Riley

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