Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Review of The Silver Stain by Paul Johnston (Creme de la Crime, 2012)
The Silver Stain uses the context of the making of a Hollywood movie about the past to examine both what happened then and its present day repercussions. Johnston does an excellent job of keeping both the past and present in frame, using the tale to illustrate how the past is variously remembered, used and contested, and how its legacy continues to rumble on. As such, the historical and political context and sense of place are particular strengths of the story, as is the characterisation. There is a fairly large cast, but each actor is well penned and vivid, and Mavros is an engaging lead character as the wily detective. The storyline itself is compelling, however, the plot strays towards being overly complex, with a large number of subplots, and it depends on an awful lot of coincidences to work. Moreover, Mavros too often succeeds where the odds are stacked against him, which pushed the narrative towards Indiana Jones territory a little too often. Whilst these plot devices create a lot of action and twists and turns, they also undermine the credibility of the story, particularly in the latter third. Less, I feel, might have been more. Nevertheless, The Silver Stain is an entertaining and enjoyable tale that rattles along at a fair clip.