Review – The Book of Souls

The blurb on the back of ‘The Book of Souls’ by James Oswald describes a number of identical murders that occurred around Christmas time for ten years. It is the second in the Detective Inspector McLean series, and I haven’t read the first, so this was my first venture into Oswald’s writing.

I will admit, I did not really enjoy it that much. My favourite part of crime/detective novels is trying to work out the solution before the detective from the clues that are on offer throughout the book; but, as far as I was aware, there were hardly any clues at all as to the solution. McLean, the main character, spent much of the book at a loss and either angry or moping. Yet, I still managed to guess the killer’s identity before there was any indication who it was in the book.

It did not help that the book did not seem to know what it was trying to be. It started switching between two time zones. This in itself was confusing, as there was no indication as to which time you were reading, you had to guess for yourself. This then trailed off as the investigation took way, but with the odd chapter suddenly throwing you back in time again. It was a jarring experience and, more often than not, through me out of the reading experience. The ending then seemed to take on a supernatural element which completely through me – I was not expecting it. Yet, reading the blurbs of the other books in the series, it does seem to be Oswald’s style.

It is a book, however, that once you start reading and get into, it is hard to stop, particularly past the midway point when some progress is being made. I just had trouble getting back into it once I had stopped. There were a couple of times when I just wanted to stop reading, but I kept going and I am somewhat glad I did. It was entertaining, the characters made some sense to me (with the odd character not seeming that realistic, like Dagwood). The main murder was gruesome and intriguing, although some of the other characters and plot-points did seem to get forgotten about. There was a discrepancy with the accents as well. Some characters had a strong accent on occasion, but at other times did not. Oswald seemed to forget about writing in the accents at certain points, and then suddenly remembered so you ended up getting an onslaught of difficult-to-red dialogue. I do admire him for attempting to write it though, I just don’t think it succeeded that well.

All in all, I have to say that this was not one of my favourite books. If I come across another of Oswald’s books, I may give it a go, just to see whether it was just this book that irked me, or whether his style is just not for me. If you do like mystery novels with odd twists (this book has some good ones), then I suggest you give it a go.

This was not really much of a mini-review, so I’m sorry about that, but I just felt that there was a lot to say, just to get my thoughts out there. If you enjoyed this book, or didn’t, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to read your opinions!

Rating 2/5

If you would like to read it, you can find the book here:

If you buy it after following that link, I can, as a Book Depository affiliate, earn small commission, which would be fantastic!



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