Starlings by Erinna Mettler

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Starlings by Erinna Mettler

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This book is located in Brighton on the south coast. We get up-close-and-personal with a handful of tower block residents as they go about their daily lives.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 280 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Revenge Innk
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0956511928

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I have to say that what was a big factor in me choosing to read (and review) this book was its urban front cover. Monochrome, a bit gritty but with plenty of sky. The first character we meet is Andy, an ex-prisoner. He's on his own now and time is heavy on his hands. He stares out of his window, twelve floors up and thinks back to when he had a nice family life. All that's gone now. He stands and looks down at the children in a nearby playground and temptation rises all over again (he was convicted as a paedophile). He'll need to find the inner strength to resist - but can he?

Another resident in the block (it's not one of those smart blocks either) is elderly May. She also lives on her own. Then there's a beefy chap and his dog, Cassie. Some of their stories intermingle as the plot develops. I can see straight off that Mettler likes her descriptions. Here's a sample: Three little girls in flouncy pink bikinis are chasing seagulls by the paddling pool, their spaghetti-strapped tops stick flatly to their twig-like bodies. Way too over-the-top for me. The odd sentence or two is fine but they're all over this story like a rash. And as I read deeper into the book, all those annoying and unnecessary adverbs and adjectives tended to slow up the storyline for me as well as diluting much of the pace. Which was a pity.

Tension is created early on as two young children apparently go missing. Yes, where is Andy? Frantic searches are made and they soon turn up, unscathed. Dia is on the proverbial 'dirty weekend away' (funny how it just happens to be Brighton) with her camera-mad boyfriend/lover. We're given quite a bit about their backgrounds but I was starting to feel that Mettler's style wasn't one hundred per cent effective for me. Many of her sentences are also like statements and rather dry statements sometimes.

We meet the rest of the characters one by one. Old, young, male, female, black, white: a mixed bunch as you might expect. It's clear Mettler knows her Brighton. She seems to want to share every last detail with her readers. Sometimes there's just way too much detail which bogs down the narrative and the characters: it's as if they can't breath at times.

So, for example, when one particular character is off to the cinema, we hark back to the past, courtesy of Mettler and get a list of classic films, whether we like it or not. Just the odd mention would be fine. Ditto with other areas, whether it's names well known in the fashion world, or makes of cars, or what-have-you.

The back cover states that Like the starlings swarming the skies above, these characters dance around each other until the final shattering climax ... In my opinion, this book does not live up to these rather lofty words and aspirations. I also felt that the book was overly long. I can tell you that it came to a natural conclusion on page 252. I didn't really want to 're-boot' on page 253. It didn't feel right. So, due to the unimaginative prose and rather plodding style, not a great read for me personally.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Besotted by Joe Treasure.

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