when I first noted that this Mystery novel was 422 pages long--with the print in the edition I own being small enough that you can say "okay, this book is not pretending to be over 400 pages long"--I had my usual reaction: I hope it merits being a whodunit that goes over 350 pages. I want no padding, no slow-going, no bloated effect to fill out 150 pages of actual storytelling, or less.
well, this is an example of when a Murder Mystery needs 422 pages--and if she had needed 600 pages, I would have probably trusted her with that option too. I love this book; I guess I'll be pursuing other series entries. first off, she has one of those styles I just fall in love with...rhythm, flow, word-choice, dialogue, when and how to end a paragraph or a scene, no purple prose but able to up the word-energy during suspenseful or violent scenes. so, just on style alone, I've got another highly adept author to keep in mind for the future.
beyond that, this author has not picked a bad or time-wasting subplot, amongst the three or four provided, to buttress the main action. the stuff emanating from the backstory of the wonderful main character, PI Sam Falconer (she's got my heart, already), that is actually causing maybe 150 extra pages in the book has been fit in seamlessly with the case of the disappearing Oxford rower that has now turned into the surprising murder of someone else. there are a lot of characters and several subplots being carried forward effortlessly, but it is not confusing; one of those writers who, in my opinion, can make things very complex and richly layered--all with characters popping in and out of the action--and so far I have had no "who was that again? oh wait, does that relate to the murder plot, or the stuff with Sam's father? is that woman the study companion or the roommate, I can't keep these characters straight with everything that's going on, and if they disappear for 60 busy pages.". none of that.
so, for me, once it is over 400 pages and yet the whole thing just makes wish it wouldn't end, it's really just a simple case of being lost in a good book. Blake is a great new discovery for me; if she has done a 700-page Crime novel, I'll read it.