Murder at the Ocean Forest by ROBERT ”DIGGER” CARTWRIGHT
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I really hoped to like this book because the author gave me the ebook for free. This was nice, Robert, and thanks for that again.
Unfortunately, I really didn’t like this book for quite a few reasons. First of all, it starts extremely slowly – the entire first third mainly consists of annoying quarrelling between stereotyped characters:
– The snobby English lord and lady,
– the pious preacher,
– the American adventurer and his suffering wife.
One would expect to get to know them pretty well on more than 100 pages but, alas, they never rise above the cliché and don’t develop at all (which they won’t for the entire remainder of the book).
At their destination, they’re joined by an elderly clairvoyant (more esoteric nonsense to follow), the obligatory ghostly figure and the hotel detective.
Not only are those characters stereotyped but they immediately jump to all kinds of conclusions: The lord and his lady are quick to judge and as quick in coming to yet another wild idea about life, people and everything. The pious preacher hates them all (and, in a sideline of story which the author seemingly completely forgot about at some point, is involved is shady deals for the greater good) and won’t let them forget about it.
The adventurer and his wife basically swing between hating each other and trying to mend their marriage. Not that the reader would care because both are completely unlikable.
Meanwhile, the pompous, self-righteous, superstitious hotel detective will meander between suspects for the “Murder at the Ocean Forest”, enlist the help of the clairvoyant and, after way too many pages, will eventually solve the mystery which an experienced reader will have done at about half-way through the book.
Why, I hear you ask? Because anyone who has read “classical” mysteries will have read it all before by way better writers. This completely overrated book has obviously been strongly inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and other famous authors. (Christie is even mentioned in the book…)
Agatha Christie, by the way, could have done this in half the length and with twice the suspense.
One of the major features is so worn out by now, it even has its own Wikipedia entry:
I want to avoid spoilers here so I’ll skip the references to other prominent works of different authors whose plot devices were reused here.
Of course, every character here is more or less connected to everyone else and there are plenty of oh-so-tragic events and/or experiences they shared or can at least relate to.
Really, stock up on Doyle and Christie, (re-)read those and don’t waste your time with this book.
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