Review: The Doll **/5

I don’t normally like to seek out crime or police novels, but I like to spread out every now and then from my usual science fiction reading to check out what’s new. This title grabbed my attention because it’s from an Icelandic author and I do like a bit of ‘Scandi noir’ television. I also thought it is a horror story, so apologies to anyone who thinks it is… So far I haven’t really been taken by much of the Scandinavian flavour except Larsson’s Millienium trilogy and I’m not sure if it’s the storytelling or the translations or something else. So I wanted to see how The Doll grabbed me. 

The story opens with the discovery of the titular doll and then goes into a procedural police narrative centred around a child protection case… for roughly the entire first act. It actually got to a point where I was thinking “where is the doll in all this?” but I suppose you might call this a ‘slow burn’ sort of tale, because things do eventually meet up to finish the first third of the story. I think the story was translated by a British translator, or the author watches a lot of British procedural shows, because there’s quite a lot of British terms and slang used. 

The middle of the novel is more of the same, with more police procedural plodding and very little mention of the titular doll. There are a few more mentions of it, however there’s so much tedious police step-by-step description of everything the main characters are doing again I started to wonder ‘when is the doll going to even get mentioned again’. I only grew more anxious to get to what I assumed ‘the twist’ would be in the final act. By this point I was growing a bit tired of the ‘explainer’ way much of the story was written in. For example, a pair of police may be interviewing someone, which lots of quotes going back and forth and around the table, then as if to wrap things up the scene switches to ‘and so and so asked about this, and got that answer with this sort of tone’, etc. This resulted in me feeling out of the scene and like the author (or editor) was literally trying to fast-forward things. Very strange.

The final third starts to wrap up the story with more and more interviews and a slow pace of discoveries. IUltimately the final couple of chapters wrap up things in a very exposition-heavy way, the phrase “show, don’t tell” came to mind because the resolution was literally one character explaining to another how everything happened and came about. I was quite disappointed with the ending, and after being so-so about the rest of the story it ultimately just didn’t add up to be that good for me.
Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me a copy of #TheDoll to review.

About Frank

A Yank by birth, I moved to the Midlands of England from sunny Southern California at the beginning of 2004, after living in California for 7 years and San Antonio, Texas for 16 years before that. I'm a lifelong reader, a tabletop gamer, a wannabe writer (although I rarely write!) and am constantly interested in, and fascinated by, everything. I'm still learning about British culture and things after 10 years, and still enjoy my odd bit of Americana, which my friends and co-workers have hopefully come to terms with. View all posts by Frank

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