This week, I have read The Quiet Man by James Carol, the fourth in his detective series surrounding the cases dealt with by private investigator, Jefferson Winter. I did not realise until after I had read it that it was part of a series. This presents a good foundation, as it means that the story works as a stand-alone novel, however it is a shorter text, therefore this explains why.
I enjoyed the beginning of the novel; Carol sets the scene well, with the reader being presented with the situation. Three women have been murdered on the same date over the past three years – August 5th. They have all been tied to a chair in their kitchen with a bomb strapped to their chest, with the trigger being wired to the kitchen door. When their husbands have opened the door, their wives have been exploded by the bomb. There is currently no evidence of who may have conducted this murder, and it is coming up to August 5th again, so Winter joins Anderton in Vancouver to help her solve these crimes.
Winter’s character is the best, most relatable character presented by James; he does a brilliant job of painting him in context. You are shown throughout the novel why Winter is a detective, and how he can get into the minds of the different people involved in murders, including the perpetrator, victim, and the family members. This provides Winter with interesting character development throughout, and makes the reader enjoy his methodical ways of thinking. He is similar to a modern day Sherlock, yet preferring to deal with the psychology of a murderer, rather than physical clues; although he does focus on these sometimes. Winter’s thought process is the main focus of the novel, which at times falls a little flat. The middle of the narrative is often filled with Winter rehashing every little detail of the case thus far, every time he discovers a new detail which may help. Once or twice, this would have been a very effective method of progressing the plot-line, but once it has been used three, or more times, it becomes a bit dull. This, I feel would have been better filled with more background on Anderton, or the victims. I feel less connected to Anderton, because the only real information given about her is the information known by Winter. I feel as though Winter may have missed a trick with using his third-person narrative voice to give further background. On the other hand, it could be argued that this is effective as the reader is then seeing all events through Winter’s eyes, who is the main character within the narrative.
One of my favourite things about the plot is how Carol sets up the mystery. He has obviously gone through and meticulously plotted every detail, so there are no narrative holes, and this makes for smooth reading of the story. There are many rather surprising revelations, and will keep readers guessing, even if they are used to reading crime novels. This is because Carol brilliantly sets out the plot, so that the reader is wondering about each husband involved, and when the revelations are made about the killer, they come smoothly and naturally, but not so quickly that the narrative stumbles. Carol has written fluently and effectively to describe Winter’s case and the ways the other characters fit into it. He provides effective characters who propel the plot, which means that the reader is not swinging between theories, but can be floated along with the rest of the narrative.
Overall, The Quiet Man is an excellently written detective novel, surrounding a well-written murder mystery. The novel boasts great character and plot development, but sometimes falls short in terms of repeating information unnecessarily. Carol has presented a great mystery, with a brilliant solution, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Would recommend to anybody looking to read an easy-going piece of detective fiction, coupled with some graphic descriptions of the murders, and some effective character progression.