The Straw Men, by Michael Marshall

A serial killer is abducting women; the detective who was on the case but left the police when his own daughter was taken, is called back to help. A nameless pair of men go on a shooting spree in McDonalds. Ward (can't remember his surname) loses his parents in an accident and when he comes back home for the funeral comes across some pretty strange things in the family home. Because it's a novel, you know the three stories are going to be connected, and it's quite a gripping read to find out how.

There were some pretty good scenes in the book: the note Ward finds after attending his parents' funeral was a cracker, and the video that they left for him is really intriguing. You can't help but get drawn in and want to know what on earth's going on. Of the three stories, Ward's is the most interesting, and takes up most of the room. The other stuff is not so original.

Unfortunately, after the great hook of the letter and video, the author doesn't really manage to deliver a worthy ending - things just get ridiculously implausible, as it turns out there's some kind of secret group of hyper-rich people pursuing a wacky set of principles, and they've got supporters all over the place. There were also some aspects of the video that weren't really explained, which was a bit of a let-down.

I'm not sure if it was the reader, but there were a few places where the vocabulary jarred (or maybe the reader just mis-read it): in one place some facts were "deducted" from evidence, and in another someone was "self-depreciating". He also was a bit more wordy than he needed to be. Instead of a "Nescafe jar", we had "a jar that had once contained the product of a prominent instant coffee manufacturer".

But, a pretty good read, despite those faults. Would be worth looking for another.

Completed : 19-Jan-2005 (audiobook)

[nickoh] [2005 books] [books homepage]