Saturday, December 3, 2011

Babel by Barry Maitland

I was going to wait and review this one in one post with the next Brock and Kolla mystery after I read it, but what the hell.

Babel, the sixth book in this series, is set only weeks after the events of the previous book, Silvermeadow. Kathy is on leave and working through the panic and bad dreams she's been having as a result of those events. Her supervisor, Brock, is looking into the murder of a prominent philosophy professor* at a London university. It seems possible that the murder had something to do with religious fanaticism, and clues begin to point to the local Muslim community. Before long, Kathy finds herself drawn into the case informally even while she questions whether to retire from the police force.

The plot in this one was the weakest of all the Maitland mysteries I've read so far. I waited for the twist, but when it came, it was so goofy that I was really disappointed. I was also disappointed that I guessed a major plot point from the (unnecessary) prologue and turned out to be right. I don't want to find out I've guessed right; I want to believe I'm right and learn that I totally misinterpreted the clues. I want the characters to be right, ultimately. But Brock and Kathy misinterpret someone's vague statement without questioning whether they might be wrong, and it was glaringly obvious (to me, because I guessed right) that they did so to set up the 'what a twist!' moment at the end. But it was all spoiled for me because of that damn prologue. What the hell was Maitland thinking?

I did like the interaction between Brock and Kathy in this one. I really enjoy seeing the way their lives intersect more closely as the series progresses. So I'm about to pick up book seven.

*I admit to a surge of glee when I realized a philosophy professor had been murdered in this book, and imagined him to be the same philosophy professor from The Vices, which I read and disliked recently.

B&N link (used book)


Kelly Robinson said...

I hate it when that happens! What's great is when you think you've figured it out based on very subtle clues that make you think you are SO clever, then the next subtle clue completely unravels what you were thinking. It takes real skill to be manipulative and deceptive yet really be leading somewhere.

K.C. Shaw said...

Yeah, and most of Maitland's books really are that deceptive so I was disappointed with this one. (Either that or I'm just getting better at spotting his red herrings.)