Book Review. Cleaver Square: A Plot-driven Detective Novel
Review of Cleaver Square by Sean and Daniel Campbell for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Cleaver Square is a well-plotted detective novel. I enjoyed travelling around London with Detective Morton, I also liked the detailed police procedural and scientific information, including autopsy reports and legal issues. At times it was like watching an entertaining crime film, with all the intricacies of a complex investigation.
The plot was cleverly designed and well-developed by Sean and Daniel Campbell until the final surprising twist is revealed. It’s narrated in third person, although the narrator is sometimes omniscient and sometimes, takes the point of view of one of the characters, such as Morton or Charlie Mathews, a young boy in a foster family, who is an essential component of the plot which will gradually develop throughout the novel (I don’t want to add any spoilers). The prose was mostly easy and pleasant to read.
It’s definitely a plot-driven novel, because the emphasis is clearly on an external conflict, in this case a murder, and its solution through a specific sequence of events, in this case tracking down the criminal. There is a great deal of action involved, and both the dialogue and the action are mainly concerned with unveiling the plot and solving the issue at hand. In this aspect there is no objection, the plot was correctly and smoothly conveyed.
On the other hand, there is an aspect which made it hard for me to enjoy the novel as much as I would have liked. I felt it lacked character development. I personally prefer character-driven novels where the emphasis is on personal conflict and the relationships between the characters.
Character driven novels do not have a tangible or specific outcome. They are more concerned with how the characters cope with conflict, how they make decisions, and how these decisions affect their relationships with each other and their lives in general. The outcome is often a change of attitude, or a new situation in the characters’ lives. There is often no specific or definite solution or conclusion. I like to meet people when I read a novel, and I enjoy it when the characters to stay with me after I finish reading.
Most novels combine engaging characters and a compelling plot to varying degrees, but in this case, I felt that the lack of character development made it difficult for me, at times, to connect with the story itself, because I wasn’t interested in the characters themselves and what happened to them. As a result, I almost lost interest in the solution of the crime. I would have liked to feel more involved with the people in the novel.
Overall I’d say that if you enjoy a well-plotted detective novel, set in London, with an unexpected final twist, you’ll enjoy Cleaver Square.