Brief, Non-Spoilery Review of Fog of Doubt – Book 10 of the #20booksofsummer

Halfway through the 20 books of summer!   A pity it’s 2/3 over.  You might think I can at least get to 15, but I seem to have saved the longer ones for last.  I could cheat massively and replace the second half of the list with short reads, but no, I don’t think I will.  I have wanted to read some of them for years.  I shouldn’t have added up all the pages, then I wouldn’t know how impossible it is.  Anyway, never say die, or something.

Fog of Doubt — Christianna Brand – really, just go read my or J.J.’s chapter by chapter, it’ll be much faster.  But no, that’s unfair.  As a number of people pointed out on The Invisible Event, quite correctly, there’s a lot of good writing in it.   It’s just not a good mystery.   Not a good fair-play detective story anyway.  And I just found Cockrill, the detective, incredibly irritating.   He didn’t detect, he intuited.   Twice.    “I just have a feeling that a gun is involved.”   So blankety-blank stupid.   Why on earth would you stoop to writing like that?   No one ever should have to do that.   Just discover the darn gun in the drawer.   Thought the whole thing with the gun was hair-pullingly ridiculous.  So, no, I’m not reconsidering.   Some good characters and some good lines is not enough for a good book.

The legendary fog of London was known as a London Particular (an alternate title for Fog of Doubt), also a pea souper, which in the fullness of time, London Particular became one name for thick pea soup.   I love that.   Someday maybe I’ll go there and have a bowl of London Particular.

In the meantime, if you’re a completionist and want to read all of Brand, you may as well get this one out of the way.   Otherwise, I think you can skip it, unless you’re particularly (see what I did there?) enamored of little old ladies putting crepes on their heads and other adorable eccentricities.   I liked that Rosie was smarter than everyone thought.   Wish something better had been done with that.   I find it bizarre that in writing about a two year old child she’s constantly referred to as ‘it.’  Also the nighttime routine apparently being referred to as potting the baby seems odd to me.   Did everyone say that or just Brand?

The main trouble with the book is that any of them could have done it with just a little rewrite.   There was no feeling of, ah, yes, of course it was X, because it just as easily could have been Y or Z.   Anyway, plenty of people like it, so you might, too.   Just don’t look for fair play.

For Just the Facts – this book features a courtroom scene.   For Follow the Clues there’s quite a lot in general similar about them, but I think the main thing is Scotland Yard working with someone outside the yard – Sir Henry in Red Widow and Cockrill in Fog.


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