Book of the month: "The Twenty Three"

Of course I missed an installment in my new and shiny "Book of the month" feature. But rest assured, it was spent reading books, allowing me to come back here and talk about my book of the month.

This month? "The Twenty Three" by Linwood Barclay. The book is the third in the Promise Falls trilogy, and this "Book of the month" segment is thereby about the whole trilogy, in a way.

As with many trilogies, you go into it expecting that not every story-line will be neatly tied up until you're done with the last book. That's half true for the trilogy, considering that each book has a somewhat distinct plot, only loosely linked to the overarching story-line finding an end in the third book.

And while the stories in book one and book two were not uninteresting, after having finished the last book I feel somewhat cheated that they didn't tie in more with the overarching story that governs the whole thing.

I won't go into the details of the grander plot of the trilogy, but in its essence it's a mixture of murder, love, loss, sex, family and, well, ordinary relationships. Not unlike the world we live in, but with a bit more drama and psychopaths added to the mix.

I enjoyed the way Barclay creates his characters, even though they, despite having the length of three books to do so, aren't always developed to be as multi-faceted as they could be. One distinct stylistic feature he likes to employ is to have one character narrating from a first person vantage point. The kicker? In each of the books it's another one. Slightly confusing at first, but it adds a bit of character to the books and also some of that tension for the reader, considering that at times you know more about what's going on than the first person narrator.

Most story-lines are tied up nicely in the end, but as mentioned above, I wished the plots of the first two books would have had more bearing on the final story that develops throughout the whole trilogy (even though I do understand the need to have books that can be read on their own, without having to have read every part of the trilogy).

Which reminds me of something that kept bothering me while reading the books: Barclays characters sometimes appear with already developed backstories that seem  significant but are only lightly referenced throughout the books. It makes me wonder whether most of them had their own stories told in previous Barclay books, the way some of the characters in the trilogy had their stories developed in book one or book two. If so, it leaves me in a bit of a bind: I'm interested enough in them now to want to see what happened to them, but Barclay also gave away so much about their previous stories, I feel I don't even need to read the books because, well, I already know what is going to happen to them.

All in all, though, the books are good entertainment, and I say this with the utmost respect, its short chapters make them a good fit for a read on the crapper.

The picture, by the way, is not of the Promise Falls, considering they are fictitious. Instead, it's somewhere in the alps.