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sarahf1984

Sarah's Library

I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad).  The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.

Currently reading

The Last Honeytrap
Louise Lee
Progress: 100/346 pages
Complete Works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

The Candidate by Daniel Pembrey

The Candidate: A Luxembourg Thriller - Daniel Pembrey

I received a free Adobe Digital Editions copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, this has not compromised my ability to write an honest and critical review of the book.

 

30/1 - Opening thoughts?  What's with this line on page 7?  "I had laughter lines, but no grey hairs - and a full head of them, with stubble to match."  Now I'm imagining an excessively wrinkled head, and not just on his forehead, his whole head - like a Shar Pei (see below for examples).

 

Now, on page 13 we have a fluffy dog called Mischa and she has a 'sharp tongue'.  I've owned dogs my whole life and I've yet to come across one with a sharp tongue - they're not even rough (like a cat's), let alone sharp.  To be continued...

 

2/2 - Page 16 (yeah, I know, I haven't read much since my last post, but it's not really grabbing me at the moment) - "Christmas excitement was in the air, kids squealing, melting chocolate wafting from the street vendors."  Really?  Was melting chocolate actually wafting from the street vendors?  Or was it perhaps, more correctly, the smell of melting chocolate wafting from the street vendors.  Because otherwise I would expect the next sentence to go something like this "Oh my God!  There's melted chocolate floating down the street!  We all need to run and hide, Voldemort/God/Satan/Willy Wonka (or any other appropriate chocolate levitating deity you can think of) is coming." but no, the next sentence moves onto your phone ringing.  So, I can only assume that you didn't actually mean to say that there was melted chocolate wafting down the street, you (or whoever you hired) just neglected to read this sentence for logic during the editing process, a small slip up with a big effect.  To be continued...

 

Later that evening - "Her contacts for the role would be impeccable, as they like to say here in French."   First of all, don't we say impeccable in English too?  And secondly, the structure of the second half of that sentence isn't saying what Pembrey thinks it's saying.  When I read it, it seems to be saying that the people who like to say impeccable are saying it in a place called French.  I assume that what he's trying to say is that the people who like to say impeccable like saying it in the language of France.  Personally, I can't see how to fix the sentence to say exactly what he wants it to say, but I also don't see why the "as they like to say here in French." part is actually necessary to the story - it just sounds a bit pretentious (but, maybe that's what Pembrey's going for, the fact that Luxembourgers are pretentious - I don't know one way or the other, not having been to Luxembourg myself).  To be continued...

 

4/2 - I don't believe that if I (or any normal person) woke up with some memory problems after what appears to have been a big night (from comments made by friends who were there, at least for parts of it) and a small rash-like patch on my skin I would immediately jump to the idea of "Oh my God, I've been drugged with memory erasing drugs!" The more logical explanation would be that I had too much to drink, and been bitten by a mosquito a few days earlier. Unless I was Jason Bourne my first thought wouldn't be memory erasing drugs.  To be continued...

 

22/2 - I'm not a fan of soccer - don't know the game, don't know the stars - wish there wasn't so much discussion about soccer.  At the start of the next chapter (following page) is the following sentence "Arsenal had lost in the end; in case you were wondering."  I really wasn't wondering at all (I doubt any readers, even the soccer fans, were wondering as this is a fictional book and likely that soccer match is also fictional, so it's unnecessary information to the story), in fact I was hoping there would be no further mention of soccer in general.  I am vaguely (just enough) interested to find out what's going on with 'the candidate', otherwise I might be giving up soon.  To be continued...

 

A few hours later - Awkward phrases galore!  The pinnacle being page 33-34 "More interviews, then the debrief meeting at which we would make our decision...I washed my face with my hands, feeling the raw coldness of it, the weight of tasks ahead of me, and descended the hill in the snow."  When I read "I washed my face with my hands" it sent me scanning through the previous paragraph for when he entered the toilets or came across a sink, but no, there's no public toilets just his hands.  How do you "wash your face with your hands?"  Maybe Pembrey means 'scrubbed his face with his hands'?, but then how's he feeling the "raw coldness of it"?  Does that simply mean he rubbed/scrubbed his face with his hands and his hands were cold?  That, plus a number of the previous sentences (not counting the ones I've already pointed out) just don't read right.  I get what Pembrey is trying to say, but I shouldn't have to mentally translate the story in order for it to make sense.  To be continued...

 

A few minutes and half a page later - Why is Darrel Casablancas screaming everything he says?  If he's not why is every sentence of his finished with an exclamation point?  Why does the fact that Charlotte is "strolling slowly round her office with her headset on" automatically mean that she must be on "some very important call"?  She might be talking to her mother about her father's annoying antics at the family Sunday night dinner the night before.  To me, strolling does not impart importance.

 

Another couple of pages down - I have no idea what this sentence means "Liesl, the receptionist, nodded warmly as I approached: your guest, Nick."  Nick has come down to the lobby to meet the candidate for the position they're trying to fill, she's facing away from him, and then there's that nonsensical sentence.  Those last three words, just make no sense to me at all.  Oh wait, maybe this is a punctuation issue?  Maybe it's meant to be "Liesl, the receptionist, nodded warmly as I approached "Your guest, Nick.""  That makes more sense, but compounds the problems plaguing this book.  To be continued...

 

Page 41 - "He had a full head of back hair (surely dyed), a craggy face and larger than life presence, always."  A 'full head of back hair'?  Now that's an interesting image - sparse curly hair like my dad's or (even funnier) like some men who have an animal-like pelt of back hair that could be harvested for a rug?  What's with this author and strange hair-related images?  Unfortunately, I don't know the correct term for this but I'm pretty sure that when you have a pair of commas, like in the above sentence, the first section (before the first comma) should be able to be read coherently with only the last section (after the second comma).  For example the following sentence: I've read so many books, not all of them good, that I should be able to write one of my own.  You can remove the middle section of the sentence, between the two commas and the sentence still makes perfect sense (an example, not a statement of truth or intent).  Not so much with Pembrey's sentence, if you removed the middle section of the sentence it would go like this: He has a full head of back hair (surely dyed) always.  Nope, not a lick of sense there.  I also have problems with the assumption that a man in his late forties with black (I assume that's what author was actually aiming for) hair must have dyed it.  My father is in his late 50s (yes, a whole decade older) and has managed to make it this far without dying it or having to admit to finding his first grey hair.  To be continued (for how much longer depends on the continuing problems)...

 

Bottom of the same page - "...Mike closed the door behind him and this time, I didn't fetch Kate a drink."  That seems to be jumping the gun a bit.  As far as Nick (or the reader) actually knows, he and Kate have never met before and she certainly didn't drug him and ransack his apartment a couple of nights ago.  There has been no discovery, no 'aha moment', so why does Pembrey say "...and this time, I didn't fetch Kate a drink."?  This mistake feels like the author knows what's going to happen (that Kate did have something to do with drugging Nick, no matter how illogical that seems) but forgot that the reader doesn't know yet - he's telegraphing future moves in the plot in the worst way.  To be continued...

 

A couple more pages - Why would you describe LinkedIn as an "airless world"?  It's an online community, of course it's airless.  I'm doing my best here, plugging along, but not really getting anywhere.  I feel absolutely nothing for Nick and the two female characters just feel like sets of characteristics that are the norm to make up their chosen characters.  Yekaterina is a femme fatale (Nick even says so) so she must be stunningly beautiful, wear form fitting yet professional clothes, be European (specifically Russian), be blonde and be handy with the man-drugging drugs - yep, Kate (as she quickly becomes) is all of that, so therefore she ticks all the boxes for femme fatale.  Charlotte is an exact cut-out of a ball-busting female boss - she dresses a bit too sexily for the office (leaving the men with nothing to do but stare at all the artfully exposed skin), is hard on her underlings (particularly the men), and works all hours (puts those men to shame).  I was going to try for 50%, but I really want to get back to Isabel Allende.  I'm sorry Mr Pembrey, but I'm going to have to DNF The Candidate at page 44, not only is the story not for me, but the lack of editing is also not for me.  Good luck with anything you write in the future.