Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review of People Who Walk in Darkness by Stuart Kaminsky (2008, Forge)

A Canadian diamond mining expert is found dead in a Siberian mine, dead after encountering a supposed ‘ghost child’. A young woman is discovered murdered on train after swapping a consignment of diamonds for a suitcase of cash. A Botswanan gang member is being held and tortured by a Moscow gangster. Inspector Rostnikov from the Office of Special Investigations is assigned to the first two cases, overseen by his ambitious and politically savvy boss, ‘The Yak’. A rival general would like to add the Office of Special Investigations to the Division of Murder, and without solving a high profile case in the next nine days, that's a distinct possibility. Rostnikov and his small team are in a race against time and several parties – including a super model, assassin, Olympic standard weight-lifter, a Russian billionaire, Botswanan gang and Russian mobsters – interested in recovering a fortune in diamonds and cash.

People Who Walk in Darkness has a fast paced plot involving many threads. The plot and characters hold much potential, but the narrative failed to deliver in many ways. The storytelling felt workman-like and rushed, with not enough attention to detail. My suspicion is it was written to a formula, by an old hand who has a track record of churning out a couple of books a year – others of which are much more finely honed. The result is flat prose, under-developed characters and scenes, and a lack of context and story scaffold. This was a real shame as the bones of a decent caper/police procedural novel are here. An interesting enough read, but not out of the top draw.

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Thanks, as always, for this review. I know what you mean about a novel having potential and turning out a little too flat. Perhaps I won't run out to get this one...