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    Muddy Pond

    Although the main thrust of the book purports to be about the murder of a late 20-something schoolteacher just prior to Christmas, this is actually a book about our main protagonist Gemma Woodstock. The murder forms the backbone of the book but everything spirals out from there and it can be quite an uncomfortable read. I just could not connect with the main character at all. She constantly harks back to a failed High School relationship with Jacob and very definitely wears rose-tinted spectacles when she does. This is easy for her to do as he committed suicide at Sonny Lake before graduation and she blames herself. This has clouded her judgement and vision for the next 10 years; when an old classmate, Rosalind Ryan, is found murdered at Sonny Lake it just brings everything to ahead. It isn't her retrospection that annoys me, or even her infidelity with a colleague, there is just something deeply unlikeable about the character. I think it is her innate selfishness that bothers me so much and her almost brutal refusal to meet anyone even halfway. The procedural parts of the book are handled very well with large periods for the Smithson Police Force where they simply have nothing to go on and are reduced to rehashing old interviews hoping that something will suddenly leap off the page at them. This rings very true to life, less so is the misogyny towards Gemma. I am sure this did/does take place but the Feminist agenda is rather high in this sections of the book and it annoys me. Gemma has been with this same Police Force for a large number of years now and proven herself to be good at her job so her gender would be largely forgotten by her colleagues. I sort of enjoyed the book but I was beginning to get bored by the end if I'm being honest. The strangest thing about it all, for me, was thinking of Christmas taking place in blazing heat and yet still having a Pine Tree in the home - I know this is reality for a goodly number of the people on our planet but as a Northern Hemisphere resident it just feels wrong. Also, the bonbons confused the heck out of me until I realised that they are Christmas Crackers and not the sweet treats. A generally solid book about the Human Condition with a bit of Thriller thrown in. Passes the time adequately but didn't really get my imagination running or the pages turning.

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