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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Means to Evil by John Trenhaile

Really, really bad

John Trenhaile lives in England - and this is an important fact for the rest of this review. He lives in England and he has written a mystery set in California.

Now, it seems to me that a mystery set in 1990s California should feature characters that sound like Californians, behave like Californians and follow Californian police procedures. Instead, in A Means to Evil Trenhaile has characters that speak like they live in England, they behave like the English and they follow insanely ridiculous police procedures.

By page 150 of this 388 page book I was sick of the meandering story and the unprofessional behavior of the psychologist. But then I started to fold over the pages that had silly comments, unlikely technical achievements and flat out use of non-American English. I ended up with well over 30 folded pages.

Examples of non-American English:

Police chief yelling at reporters before a press conference: "Give way!...Give way to the front there!"

One of the policemen mentions that he talked to someone a "fortnight" ago. Fortnight is never used in America!

A character mentions that she wants to move away. She says that they should just "move house."

Bad facts:

He refers to the reporter at a local CBS affiliate station as a CBS reporter - that is never done in the United States. Reporters who work for a network affiliate always say that they work for the affiliate (WTHR or KABC, for example), not the network. That is because they DO NOT work for the network!

He has the police talking about executing someone via the electric chair in Cailifornia - California only uses lethal injection.

Technical impossibility:

A CD player is playing a CD when the power is cut at the fuse box. After several seconds, power is restored and the CD player resumes playing right where it stopped!

At the very least, Trenhaile should have had an American editor read the book to see if the dialogue sounded even close to true. Also, anyone who has worked a CD player would know that his description, while certainly dramatic when placed in its scene, is impossible.

But even more unforgivable is the boring, plodding, dragging, annoying first half of this book. Do not buy this dog - read the back of a cereal box instead!

I rate this book 1 star out of 5.

You can find this book on Amazon.com here: A Means to Evil.

Reviewed on September 14, 2006.

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