Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Preacher

I had a horrible and yet quite dull dream this morning about being assailed by zombies while living in the swamplands of south-east England, which I woke from confused and slightly terrified. There was a lot of mud involved.

I blame this dream on the mental upset I had from reading The Preacher, a Swedish detective novel I picked up for three Canadian dollars in the Value Village in Halifax. Just like The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo it's a Scandinavian story that seems to have been written by somebody with a tin ear for dialogue, a wilful ignorance of characterisation and plotting, and a translator who was happy to remain entirely faithful to the source material.

It's odd, because it's the same translator that does Henning Mankell's books, and they're not teeth-grindingly bad, whereas this seems to be racked full of awful sentences, odd repetition of words when you wouldn't expect it.
'We're facing a crisis that will affect the entire community.' Stig Thulin, the most influential citizen in the community, narrowed his eyes at Mellberg, who did not look noticeably impressed.
Go on, just look at those two sentences and try to figure out how to put them right.

There's even a 'deafening silence', an incredible oxymoron that nobody has previously thought to put down in print. Well done, people.

The most annoying thing about this novel is how compulsive it is; despite a parade of police who each notice something suspicious, but can't figure out what it is (and we don't get the chance to either, due to the lack of detailed description), a series of dull Swedish farming types that never bother to adequately distinguish themselves from one another, and some absolutely awful caricatures who wander in for ten pages to mess up the kitchen and then wander off again, I found myself being jerked around by Lackberg's plot, and had to clamber through all 420 pages to find out what happened.  And then I was just annoyed at myself for spending all that time reading this when I could have been doing something productive with my life, like finishing building my robotic drunk comedian simulator.  But perhaps that's a treat I'll save for tomorrow evening, with a fist full of programming manuals and a rude attitude.


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