Friday, August 06, 2010

CEMETERY LAKE: PAUL CLEAVE


I intended to use Paul Cleave's Cemetery Lake as my final contribution to Dorte's 2010 Global Reading Challenge at medium level. [Twelve books from six continents.]
But I did not find this book to my personal taste, and I don't want to end a very enjoyable challenge on a negative note so I will choose another Australasian book.

I should have read the reviews before starting Cemetery Lake, one review on Paul Cleave's web site states:

Cleave's writing is uncompromising, unpredictable and enthralling........Made me vomit-seriously it's that good.

Unfortunately I come from an older generation where vomiting is not a sign of appreciation.
Michele Peckham on the Euro Crime web site tells us "This is a grueling novel", and I would concur mainly because it is written in the first person narrative present tense. This takes you right into the action with Cleave's protagonist Theo Tate, an ex-policeman now a private detective with a traumatic past that makes the histories of Rebus, Morse, Wallander and Harry Hole look positively idyllic.
Anyone who thinks Scandinavian crime fiction is bit dark and gloomy has not read the Australasians Leah Giarratano and Paul Cleave.

Why did I not like this novel?
Firstly there were plot developments that caused me to rapidly lose sympathy and patience with the protagonist, Theo Tate.
The other characters play a comparatively minor role, and so the book lives and dies on the reader's opinion of Tate.
Then a clunking clue was dropped early in the book as to what was going to be the problem, and possibly there were a few holes in the plot. Do people really behave the way they do in Cemetery Lake?
Also the novel was set in Christchurch, New Zealand, but there was no sense of place and it could just as easily been Seattle or Cardiff, anywhere it rained constantly.
I found the whole thing very depressing, and long before the end had begun to read Carl Hiassen's Skinny Dip to lighten my mood.
When the clunking clue, and the denouement came together, and all was explained I wondered if some people might feel offended by the plot line. But then what do I know, and I am sure a lot of people will love this book..........

8 Comments:

Blogger Margot Kinberg said...

Norman - Thanks for your candid review. With a first-person narrative, one always runs the risk of disliking the book mostly if one doesn't like the protagonist. Interesting point...

4:41 AM  
Blogger Bernadette in Australia said...

I have stopped discussing them because it gets me into trouble but this book was a DNF for me for many of the same reasons you mention Norman.

I love the line "Unfortunately I come from an older generation where vomiting is not a sign of appreciation" from your review, though when I re-quote it I will remove the word unfortunately. I'm all for progress but vomiting will never be in the "pros" side of any pros/cons list I make :)

Hope you enjoy Skinny Dip - certainly a lighter novel than CL and IMHO a better book

4:49 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot.Tate was just not believable to me.

Bernadette, I am so pleased I am not alone.
My 'unfortunately' was an attempt at sarcasm you are very welcome to remove it. ;o)
Perhaps those who thought this was a good attempt at the first person narrative private eye novel have never read Chandler, or Ross Macdonald.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Bernadette, yes thank you. I totally agree with you about Skinny Dip which I am really enjoying.
I laughed at CL when the scenario that was clear from about page 60 came about.
I am laughing at the hilarious antics of the larger than life characters in Skinny Dip. I seem to know some of these people and I have never been to Florida. ;o)

5:38 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

I am sorry you didn´t like it at all. I hope my review wasn´t too glowing?

Well, at least I had some reservations, e.g. the not very sympathetic ´hero´ and plot weaknesses. On the other hand the plot did *not* make me throw up. I think it is very difficult what kind of plots get to you. I know Maxine can´t read about serial killers, but for me realistic, depressing stories about women are much worse, so this graveyard plot did not make a strong impression on me because it was rather far out.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte I think your review was up in April, and I was not at my best at the time so I must have missed it. Anyway I try to avoid reading other people's reviews until I have read the book and written mine. I think you did a good job of pointing out the problems with a lighter gentler touch than I did.
The Giarratano Vodka Doesn't Freeze about child abuse got to me and was an unpleasant read, but I could see why it was written and the message it delivered. I could not see the point of Cemetery Lake it was far out as you said.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Maxine said...

I've been a bit wary of this one, based on the blurb or some other acquired knowledge about it. I have seen rave reviews on some blogs, but for me it just sounds too much on themes I know I don't like.

Also, I am old enough, and a sufficiently seasoned reader, not to regard vomiting as a compliment!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine, I get more annoyed about the rave reviews than the books, when I wonder if the people really read the book.

9:35 AM  

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