Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson
|Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A thriller partially set in Orkney containing some unlikely moments, but Orkney comes out well.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2015|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
18-year-old Sam Coyle's dad Jim is an undercover policeman. When he suggests that they take a trip to Orkney, somewhere they've enjoyed holidays in the past, Sam doesn't have to think about it, especially as she can take a friend. However for Jim it seems to be a working holiday, leaving Sam and her journalist student companion Tom to their own devices. Eventually they realise the same person is cropping up again and again, as if stalking them. Who is the watcher and what does he want? Until now her father's doom and gloom speeches have seemed a million miles from Sam's experience but now...?
Clare Carson is an anthropologist, lover of Orkney and daughter of an undercover policeman. The latter two are important as her experiences in life and musing about the tough life of a copper's daughter in a TV series led her to writing this, her debut novel and possibly the first in a trilogy.
Clare can definitely write; her lyrical descriptions of Orkney once the characters arrive are really evocative of the island's haunting beauty. Other reviewers have also enjoyed the thriller component of the story but for me the magic is in the landscape. Indeed, this review should perhaps be prefaced with a comment along the lines that it may only be me but there just seem too many niggles to overlook.
Sam Coyle rebels in a typically teenage way for the era (1980s), getting caught up in the Greenham Common peace camp and smoking the odd bit of weed away from her father's gaze (reflecting Clare's own experience). She's also paranoid as we'd expect from the daughter of someone who predicts his own death during most family parties. However the paranoia rises and is explained away so often that any suspense in it diminished until, when there is the danger Sam fears, the adrenaline-producing side of my brain had almost given up.
There is a moment when the excitement does hit, and I was about to forgive all, forget the slow start and go with the accelerated flow when what (to me) were unlikely circumstances again made me think twice. I won’t give anything away but something plot-changingly nasty is told to someone out of the blue by someone who I'd thought wouldn't reveal it at that moment or to that person. Also, considering Sam's father's fears for his life and Sam's own paranoia, why, irritatingly, does she tell everyone she meets he's an undercover cop?
Indeed I guess the crux for me is that the moments of excitement and peril depend on these unlikely revelations and moments that don't 'sit right', while endangering I don't care enough about. Other parties have also mentioned research errors (e.g. no such thing as internship in 1980s Britain) but that's easy to correct and something I'd happily overlook if I could get involved in the story.
As I said at the beginning, Clare can write; she has a natural talent so it's just a case developing a sense of pacing and suspense. If this novel was an Orkney-set exploration of relationships or something that wasn't meant to thrill, the star rating would shoot up exponentially. It will therefore be interesting to see what Clare does in her second novel as, we've all witnessed many times, a disappointing first book can sometimes be followed by a wondrous stonker of a second.
Thank you, Head of Zeus, for providing us with a copy for review.
You can read more book reviews or buy Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson at Amazon.com.
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