|Date Published||15 November 2016|
Rooted in Dishonour
When an 18-year old girl disappears days after she meets her husband-to-be, DI Tim Yates is convinced this is his first encounter with an honour killing.
Katrin Yates, Tim’s wife, is going back part-time to her old job as a police researcher now their daughter is old enough to go to a childminder. Soon Katrin is involved with Tim’s case, on the periphery, meeting escapees from arranged marriages; women who would have certainly been killed in the name of honour if they hadn’t fled their tyrannical families.
DC Juliet Armstrong, however, is not convinced Ayesha Verma has been honour-killed, even less so when another young woman, Margie Pocklington, goes missing. But both girls have fallen off the radar.
A potential honour killing sounded like an interesting plot, so I was eager to tuck into this book, even though it is the fifth in the DI Yates series and I had not read the others. For the first six chapters, I followed Tim around London, mostly being treated to him vomiting and nearly passing out in embarrassing places. As the author made such a deal of Tim’s sorry state, I was expecting it to be critical to the plot. These early chapters were written in the third person, by which time I had settled in, even though the vomit scenes just didn’t do it for me.
Then I arrived at the seventh chapter. Bang – a chapter from Katrin, in the first person point of view. I checked the cover; yes, this is a DI Yates novel. So why is there a first person point of view from someone who is not the main character, when Tim is relegated to third person status? The next chapter didn’t make the story flow any better as it was written from Juliet’s third person point of view. Then a few chapters later, just as I was settling down again with sickly Tim, we had a chapter from ‘the small man’s’, third person point of view. Although it is obvious who he was, and key to the story, it disjointed an already fragmented story further.
Normally I like chapters that flip between points of view, but this felt disorganised and did nothing for the pacing, which was, in places, sedentary. Despite one, then two girls going missing, the story, let alone the characters, had little or no sense of urgency. I was worried at one point the victims might actually die of old age before they were found. Although Tim, Juliet and Katrin all have their roles to play, they just came across as three flat, miserable people with almost no interaction amongst one another. Furthermore, harping back to this being a DI Yates novel, he might as well just have taken a few days off work to recover from his illness as he, and his vomiting, had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the case.
The only character who had a bit of oomph was a relatively minor character, DC Nancy Chappell, who helped Tim in London and later in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately, her dialogue was so badly written, I couldn’t wait for her to get off-stage. Yes, I understand the author wanted us to know Nancy is a Londoner, but when almost every th is replaced with an f, when ‘alf the words are mutilated, it doesn’t ring true; it screams corny and pulls the reader out of the story. Worse still, this was the only voice that wasn’t generic.
Another faux pas that glared at me far too often in the dialogue was one I call the ‘as you know, you are divorced,’ method of getting information across. Two people who already know something should never share that detail in dialogue, particularly when, with a little twist, the information can still appear.
I found the writing style somewhat pretentious with Latinate words and flowery adjectives, which do not sit with the introspections of every character in a story, especially when they are a mix of detectives, victims and criminals.
Having not read any other DI Yates novels, I don’t know if this one follows the pack, but there is little mystery, simply a can full of obvious red-herrings, conveniences and coincidences in a rambling story, where I learnt nothing about honour killings. I hope Tim Yates gets over his illness for the next book.
Reviewed 24 June 2017 by Kati Barr-Taylor
Kati Barr-Taylor lives in her ‘cosy pigsty’ in the Dordogne. She satisfies her literary cravings by translating, writing, editing and reading.