Colleen McCullough Too Many Murders (2009)
Well, the title sums it up. There are, I think, indeed too many murders in this book. The result is a sort of very smart form of chaos, but still chaos. I really enjoyed McCullough's first book in the Carmine Delmonico series - On, Off (2006) - and I was looking forward to this one. It isn't a bad read, but it is terribly overcomplicated by the task which the author has set herself, and it all seems a little bit forced. Beyond the interesting plot per se - twelve very different murders on one day in a small Connecticut university city in 1967 - we also have crammed in here: a handful of Russian agents; an oddball FBI spy-catcher; Carmine's giantess wife; the lack of anyone with a normal Christian name (when did you last meet a Philomena and a Desdemona together?); a lot of extraneous material taking up space (all interesting, but still space-filling); that old stereotype of the killer gunning for the detective's loved ones; and some of the most wooden dialogue I've encountered. No one talks like this. Surely. Not even in New England. Even the prose is stilted: "Privately he thought she looked stunning in an ice-blue gown she had embroidered herself in the manner of a dress Audrey Hepburn had worn in a film called Sabrina."
There is just too much going on here. And, yet, it still has elements - the concept, for example - which make is an OK story, but this may be the years of writing experience brought to it by the author. Disappointing.
If you liked this... well, there's another one out now if you're game: Naked Cruelty (2010).