Friday, 31 January 2014

Book #5 Secrecy by Rupert Thomson


I chose Secrecy in a rush in a train station bookshop, I liked the title and the blurb sounded good. Wax sculptor Zummo who is from Sicily takes a commission at the court of the Grand Duke Of Tuscany in 1691 and finds himself in a world of intrigue.

The book seemed terribly promising, great endorsements on the cover and a raft of 5 stars on Amazon and was also the Radio 4 Book At Bedtime. If anything this books publisher has done an incredibly successful PR campaign in promoting the book but I confess I found myself baffled by it.

It gets off to a good start,  I particularly liked the writing near the beginning, but somehow it just all started slipping away at great speed after say page 100.

A lot of it has no substance, the villain of the piece just isn't remotely fleshed out and we are I think left to infer much from very little. It's as though through the fact that "He's a Dominican Monk"  we are meant to infer not only his entire personality, but the entire point and purpose of his schemes, which I felt never really held much water in terms of practical motive. It was a bit Dan Brown School Of Writing.

Other bizarre things happen like Zummo meets a girl he fancies in passing twice and she suddenly randomly sends him the 17th Century equivalent of Viagra. Huh?!

Secondary characters serve little purpose either. One character is brought in only apparently to be attacked at a later date to illustrate that the Monks already pretty unlikely vendetta has escalated to such a degree that he went after Zummo's friends. None of Zummo's relationships feel genuine or possess depth and seem to exist purely as plot devices.

The denouement too is very very strange and lacking entirely in credibility.

In many ways this novel as a personal reading experience suffered in being read in too close a proximity to Ghana Must Go. The two novels are completely different yet Secrecy felt like it stood in the former books shadow in terms of how the quality and style of the plot and prose shone.

I think the best word I can use to describe this book is 'flimsy' - it just feels silly and without much weight.


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