Friday, December 18, 2009

#5 Watchers Of Time

By all accounts I should be sleeping. In all honesty I haven’t been sleeping much lately…even more so than usual in fact. I don’t know what it is. I went from not being able to fall asleep until 4am to 5am and now it’s rolling around to 6am. Ohh well, I wanted to pump this bitch out to ya’ll considering I just finished the book and it’s taken me over two weeks to read the damn thing. Partly because I’ve had to trudge through it, the other reason because I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. The book, is called Watchers of Time by Charles Todd (although according to his website by his mother Caroline as well). Don’t let that confuse you though, by his picture I would say he is in his 40’s or 50’s. All together they have written twelve Ian Rutledge books based in England after World War I. This one, the fifth book, comes in at 421 pages.

The book follows an inspector for Scotland Yard, Ian Rutledge, as he pieces together the murder of a priest in Osterley, a small town where everyone knows each other. Through his investigation he is plagued by a wound (received in I’m assuming the novel before), the war he fought in, and a ghost, called Hamish. Hamish is a soldier that served under him, who saved his life, and now haunts him. The investigation takes him into the private lives of the townspeople, causes him to step on the toes of the town constable Blevins, and pushes his levels of endurance. It also takes you back in time to a more simpler time, with simple people.

What I liked about the book. While being the fifth book in the series, and having never read any of the others, I was able to flow into the character. Kind of like Anne Rice does with The Vampire Chronicles, Todd does the same. We are told of his past, we are told of his inner demons, we are told of Hamish, and we are given enough to know why he does what he does. I found that most of the women in the story, even the older ones, still have this “beauty” to them that I wouldn’t expect (my favorite being Trent…which will make sense). Now knowing I wonder if that’s his mother at work. All the women speak of duty and responsibility, they tend to like the lives they lead, and go about their “womanly” ways as is expected of them. Even when they hint to prostitutes there is no real obscene look at them, in fact, if anything they are complimented for being “hard” and “survivors.” I also liked the set descriptions in the novel. You are easily able to paint a picture of Rutledge’s surroundings. Enough that by the end of the story the layout of the town is easily in your head. If I had anything else to say it would be that I liked the ending, I was genuinely surprised, and sometimes that is a hard thing to accomplish. Now, what I didn’t like.

I really didn’t like the book as a whole. I felt that if he/they had managed to keep the pacing in say the last hundred pages of the book, that it would have read much smoother. It just plain bored me. Let me say that again. Pacing. Pacing would have to also be my biggest complaint, there were so many times while reading it that I simply just wanted to go to sleep (and I started reading wide awake). Another would actually be the character of Hamish. Hamish seems less of a ghost to me and more of his subconscious. Half of the story Rutledge walks around about ready to pass out. Hamish is the one that finds little clues that he doesn’t pick up on, Hamish is the one that tries to offer him the advice of the normal, everyday person. When Rutledge pushes a woman into mental anguish it is Hamish that tells him he needs to back off. Again, not so much a ghost, more his subconscious. The authors have been praised for their use of time related instances in their books. In this case it is the sinking of the Titanic. That’s cool and all, but I felt it was a little much. Like they are almost trying to force you to connect with the time period. By making you read that and go, “Hey, I know what they’re talking about with that there Titanic. I can totally follow along now.” I remember reading this early on, “We’re used to drunk and disorderly, petty theft, and the occasional wife-beater who won’t learn his lesson.” I laughed. I remember reading Caroline Norton’s English Laws for Women in the Nineteenth Century (which she wrote in the 1850’s) and then reading that passage and laughing. True, Watchers of Time takes place in 1919, but I don’t imagine that the rights of women had really changed that much. If you can believe what the internets say the first Battered Women’s Shelter didn’t come about in London until 1971. Not to mention a small country town? Yeah…I don’t think too many women came forward about their husbands beating them. I also felt that they might harp a little too much on World War I. Yes, I realize that the book takes place shortly after the war, but with the inclusion of almost every male character having been in the war with an injury of some sort? That’s not really necessary. Hint: They even have a tortured sniper. Even more tortured for the fact that they didn’t “condone” being a sniper. They didn’t consider it manly.

I think what pissed me off the most about this book is that I am tempted to actually go get some of the other books in the series. Why? I think because I really started to like the character of Rutledge (who bored me to begin with). I also really fell into the book the last hundred pages. I think I have been deceived and that deception is making me want to read more. Bastards…the both of them.

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