I love crime stories, so I enjoyed these books. They’re well–written and fast-paced, they have intriguing mysteries and they keep you guessing about the murderer. But there’s something missing. For me, at least.
A crime story doesn’t need a lot of character. It’s not a literary novel, digging deep into motive and action, searching for an ultimate intellectual truth; it’s an entertainment. But the best of them do a little more than entertain: they get you interested in the the people. You get to love/hate/distrust/fear/recoil from/ embrace them. (Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series is a good example.)
These two ‘Vera’ books don’t. Everyone remains mostly one-dimensional, which means the reader doesn’t care for them, or care what happens to them. Worse, Vera herself comes across as a judgmental pain in the arse, always seeing the worst in any situation or individual. She’s been softened for the TV series – which I watch regularly – so perhaps I’m not alone in finding her written incarnation off-putting.
I’m still going to read more though. As I said, I love crime stories.