Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Convenient relationships

I'm just over 200 pages into John Lawton's Old Flames. My sense so far is a very strong opening is entering a bit of a plodding middle, but I suspect it's going to reignite at any minute. Lawton is clearly a very good writer and can tell a good yarn. Like with Black Out though, I can't help but notice that coincidence and convenient relationships play more than a minor role in his stories. His main character, Troy, is a chief inspector in charge of the Scotland Yard murder squad, he is the son of a newspaper magnate Russian emigre for which his brother-in-law is an editor, his brother is the shadow foreign secretary, his ex-girlfriend is Eisenhower's ex-secretary, and he's been drafted in to the bodyguard detail of Khrushchev when he visits Britain, etc. That's a lot of convenient relationships. I can't help feeling that the story might gain something if parts of it didn't rest on them quite so much. I guess the other side of this, is that there are/were families who are incredibly successful and are tied into powerful networks (such as the Kennedys). I don't know, I just find some of the plot unlikely or implausible which always unsettles me as a reader. Still it makes for an intriguing story, and I'm firmly hooked in, so on that level it is working just fine!


Uriah Robinson said...

Rob- Old Flames does ignite and there are more coincidences. I believe in coincidences because they happen in real life. As for family connections we probably have a cabinet that is more interrelated than the Colonial Virginia House of Burgesses in the seventeenth century.

Rob Kitchin said...

I accept that there are coincidences in real life, I've no problem with that, but so many of them? If there are too many it just sretches credibility. If you want inter-related/inter-generational cabinets then look no further than Ireland, where I think 14 or 15 of the 16 ministers are the sons/daughters, nephews/neices of previous TDs and a few of them are part of family dynasties.