Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Review of Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips (Hachette, 2012)
Louise Phillips’ debut novel, Red Ribbons is a psychological police procedural set over a few autumn days. The story is told through three alternating voices: the killer’s, Kate Pearson’s and Ellie’s. Ellie’s voice in particular is very strong and engagingly written, but the characterisation of all three is well developed. In contrast, the other characters are a little thin and two dimensional. In particular, Detective Inspector O’Connor as the fourth central character is somewhat of an enigma and the reader learns little about him other than he’s an alpha male and under a lot of pressure. The writing is a little hesitant at first, but as the story unfolds it becomes progressively more assured and compelling, hooking the reader in. For the most part the plotting works well, though the timeline felt a little compressed, using a couple of plot devices to move the story along. Given the structure, where the reader knows the killer and his thoughts, the tale is more of a why-dunnit and whether he’ll get away with it than a who-dunnit. Yet, despite the relative transparency of the plot, Phillips manages to keep the tension high right to the final page. Indeed, from about halfway-on it was quite engrossing and I raced through to the end. Overall, an entertaining psychological thriller.