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by Elena Forbes
Quercus, August 2008
352 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847243592

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Reviewer's Law No. 8 . . . Review books promptly or with some you'll forget what the heck happened. I came to write up my thoughts on OUR LADY OF PAIN about three weeks after finishing it, and found myself having to do a swift flick through the novel to refresh my memory.

I have a feeling the same thing happened with Elena Forbes's debut novel as well. Both are very good books, I hasten to add . . . . But both lack that extra spark that makes a reviewer's eyes light up and want to run out and accost passers-by to spread the word.

OUR LADY OF PAIN is a second outing for London-based cops DI Mark Tartaglia and DS Sam Donovan. It takes place a few months after the action of DIE WITH ME, where both were lucky to survive their run-in with the sinister 'Bridegroom'.

And that's where some of the book's shortcomings stem from. The main plot the investigation into the death of art dealer Rachel Tenison is well-delivered and suspenseful, even if we do suspect that she's not all she appears to be. And Forbes is strong on the London atmosphere and the general air of menace.

But the problem is the characterisation, both in depth and in showing how the characters have moved on (or not) from what happened to them last time out. Sam is the main stumbling block, as she is chronically under-drawn. And Forbes relies too heavily on a suspense technique that she utilised in DIE WITH ME.

OUR LADY OF PAIN is definitely worth the effort, and Forbes has the makings of a thoroughly solid series always assuming she can do more with the characters. The book does have the feel of one written with more than half an eye on a TV deal. And certainly far worse novels than this have found their way onto the small screen . . . .

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, September 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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