Parallel Lines by Steven Savile

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Parallel Lines by Steven Savile

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When a bank robbery goes wrong, things are not quite as they seem in this interestingly structured crime novel that sometimes loses itself in extraneous detail.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 387 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783297917

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Books are full of coincidences, because if they were not, they would be pretty dull. The action takes place during an extraordinary timescale of the characters – the time they were involved in a bank robbery, or their loved one was murdered. People are more likely to read this type of book than one about the time they picked out their new curtains. For the intrigue to happen, links between characters have to be made, but balancing coincidence is tricky. Too little and the characters don't gel, too much and you start to think the book is supernatural. Did Steven Savile get the balance right in Parallel Lines?

Adam is not just having a bad day, but a bad year. He has been diagnosed with a degenerative and incurable disease. With little time left to live he wants to ensure his disabled son is looked after, but this requires money, a lot of money. The kind of amounts that a bank would have. Adam sets out to rob a bank, but in doing so interweaves his life with a group of hostages that may be more on his side than you would think.

There is something pleasant and old fashioned about elements of Parallel that makes it feel like a Hitchcock film or Agatha Christie novel. The bulk of the story is told within the four walls of a bank. A set number of characters are introduced and between them they must think of a way to cover up a crime. At its best the book relishes in this as the characters have on the hoof ideas that will see them all bond as a group.

However, this is not how Savile wanted to tell the story and to justify the books name – Parallel Lines, he has structured it so that the narrative bounces from the present in the bank, to the time leading up to it. Almost every character in the story is fleshed out and we get a glimpse into their motives; Adam may be the main character, but all of the people in the bank have a role to play. When done correctly the split narrative can work, but here it gets a little cumbersome. This is highlighted towards the end when the structure becomes traditional again and the pace of the book picks up greatly. The final elements of the story are by far the best.

It may have been that Savile had a pleasant, but slightly dull, story to begin with and by playing with the structure he hoped to spice things up. This does mean that we are given more hindsight into characters than the normal crime book, but it also means that everyone is catered for a little, but perhaps not enough. One character in particular engages in an incident that feels a little too cold. Their actions are possibly justified in their backstory, but this was not quite fleshed out enough to make it believable.

The parallel narratives are a double edged sword that both mask the entertaining locked room problem at the centre of the book, but also gives it a unique feel. Without the rare structure the story may have been a little too bland, but with it, the book feels a little disjointed. Still entertaining, especially during the reveal, but not an evolutionary step forward for the crime genre.

The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen has an interesting parallel structure to its crime narrative, but the best at this is Extreme Prey by John Sandford.

Buy Parallel Lines by Steven Savile at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Parallel Lines by Steven Savile at

Buy Parallel Lines by Steven Savile at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Parallel Lines by Steven Savile at


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