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James Church's third Inspector O novel just doesn't quite deliver the goods. It starts out fine, blending hard-boiled noir (Hammett/Chandler) with international political thriller (le Carré/Steinhauer) mixed with a bit/dash of Hemingway.
Where Hemingway was fixated on food, wine and women, Church fixates on lack of food, the cold and wood. It all works, if you can ignore the sloppy pacing that creeps into the end of the novel. The novel's first 3/4 seems fine, not exceptional, but interesting and not too overdone, but with about 70 pages left it seems like Church loses all interest in the project and decides it will take entirely too much time and work to weave the various narrative threads back, so he just leaves them, or cuts them off completely.
The end of the novel reminded me of the butchered Geneva plane trees that Inspector O was so upset by. It is hard to love something that hasn't been allowed to freely grow to its potential. As Inspector O says of the plane trees, "They might wish they were dead. No, they have been mangled. Their tops have been hacked off. They are maimed."
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