An odd book, this one. It was written by one of my favourite authors under a pseudonym, and unfortunately, it was the last thing she wrote before succumbing to complications from motor neurone disease.
I’ve read (and reviewed) one or two of her books from the excellent Jack Caffrey series, and I’ve found her an author who write brilliantly, and never shied away from the tough subjects like child abuse and genocide. The Book of Sand was very different:
The story is set (mostly) in a desert, the location of which doesn’t appear to make geographical sense. (There is a reason for this). In this desert, a group of families are searching for an artifact called the Sarkpont, which gives them the way out. But if that wasn’t enough, the families are being pursued by a fast-moving carnivorous creatures known as the Djinni.
This is book six in the Jack Caffrey series, which I was glad to see following Miss Hayder’s diversion to Hanging Hill. There’s not much here to separate it from the other five novels; the characters are well-drawn, consistent and, thankfully, behave like human beings. The author manages to skilfully weave several threads around the main plot, tying the whole thing up very nicely with a last minute twist that honestly threw me.
What I wasn’t too sure about was the focus of the story: Jack Caffrey wasn’t really in it that much, which was odd since he was supposed to be solving the case. Instead we flitted around the relationship between a mental nurse and his boss, and spent a lot of time inside the head of one of Caffrey’s colleagues. I think I preferred it when the books were about it him.
I think the only real problem I had with the book was that the prose was a little haphazard in places; there were a few spots which brought the flow to a crashing halt and left me wondering how the editor could have missed it. My personal favourite?
The examination has been a hot potato that bounced around the Flax Bourton Mortuary like a ping-pong ball.