Dead in the Water by Matthew Costello
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed a number of the early Cherringham short stories but eventually started to find them a bit formulaic. I was intrigued to see there was a novel-length story available and keen to see if that reinvigorated the series a bit.
I still like the characters – Sarah and Jack are great and I like their camaraderie and relationship. I also still like the light-hearted tone.
Unfortunately, it is a just a bit dull. The plot is quite thin and it really does feel like one of the short stories has simply been bulked out by lots and lots of repetition: the series has always had a bad habit of showing the characters doing something or reacting in some way, then having Jack or Sarah spell out what’s just happened or what that means in an italicised thought. It’s really unnecessary and pure filler and this book is full of it: “She nodded. ‘Not happy'”; or “He smiled, thinking ‘I’m enjoying this'”.
Paradoxically, the writing style itself is almost like it’s a penultimate draft that needs refining: it is short sentence after short sentence that feels unfinished, such as: “Out of bed. Turn a light on. And go downstairs”; “In this room. Sounds. Steps. Breathing”; and “That gun. In a back pocket. Could come out.”
There was little or no input from some of the previous regular characters: Grace, Alan, Sarah’s parents, which was a bit of a shame, particularly as there was a full length book to play with.
I really wanted to like this but I’m afraid I don’t think I’ll read the next novella. I do have the next short story in the series so I will give that a go. I am grateful to NetGalley and Bastei Entertainment for the ARC of Dead in the Water.