Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spider Trap by Barry Maitland

This is the ninth book in the Brock and Kolla series. My local B&N didn't have this one in stock when I dropped by a few days ago, so I ordered a used copy online for a buck and also bought the ebook for $9.99 +tax so I could read it right away. I'm worried that my fury at the publisher for the inexcusably piss-poor formatting of the ebook has leaked over into my appraisal of the text. Seriously, the formatting was obviously just a bad scan without any further proofing. Punctuation (especially quote marks) was missing, words were missing, parts of nonsense words were inexplicably stuck into sentences, paragraph breaks were missing or extra breaks appeared halfway through sentences. And it's not like this was a small publisher without resources. I think Minotaur Books--you know, part of St. Martin's--can afford to pay someone to glance through its ebooks to make sure they're, you know, readable before they upload them for readers to pay freaking ten bucks plus Tennessee's ridiculous almost-10% tax.

So anyway, the book itself. Meh. It started out promising, with Brock and Kathy assigned to investigate the execution-style murder of two teenaged girls in a poor neighborhood. When human bones several decades old turn up nearby, Brock is convinced there's a connection between the old murders and the new--and he has to face his own past as a detective sergeant in the neighborhood, and the unsolved cases he left behind.

Promising, yes. But in reality, the book is more about how Kathy has rotten taste in men and poor judgment when the plot requires it of her, and how Brock will not freaking break up with Suzanne but just goes back and forth without making any kind of decision. After nine books, it's getting damn old. Much of the action is summarized or observed rather than participated in by the main characters--there's a chapter and a half consisting of Brock and Kathy watching something important happen on TV. Yeah, really.

I have the next book, Dark Mirror, sitting in front of me. It too sounds promising, but I think I'm going to take a break from the series for a little while (cue cheering from our faithful readers). Maybe when I return to the last two books, I will remember why I liked the series in the first place--because frankly, after the weakly plotted and frustrating Spider Trap, I'm not eager to read anything else by Maitland.

B&N link


Kelly Robinson said...

I have a few authors I follow whose series have just petered out. I blame the publishers, really. Forcing authors to crap out a book a year rather than when they really have a story ready makes us all suffer. I adore Peter Robinson, whose In a Dry Season is soooo good, but the last several of the Banks series have just been phoned in. Honestly, he even referred to a vegetarian character eating a potted meat sandwich in one, with no additional explanation. I think he just forgot she was a vegetarian.

K.C. Shaw said...

I hate that too, and I'm worried it's what is happening in this case. Maitland doesn't seem to be a particularly fast writer, but his last several books have been released bang-bang-bang so he may have been pressured to produce more--especially since the book before this one got a lot of interest and I think won some kind of award.