The Art of the Imperfect: a crime mystery set in Scarborough: Kate Evans (Review nine of the review challenge)


Good morning lazy Saturday readers, it’s day nine of the ten-day review challenge and I’m a little sad to see it end. I’m currently in the middle of writing a post on the things I’ve learnt whilst completing the challenge and it’s fair to say I’ve learnt a lot. The main thing I’ve found is that if you put your mind to writing a review you really can do it despite the distractions. Yes, there have been a few days where I’ve been a little panicky about it actually getting finished whilst writing a million other different articles and furiously munching down cheese on toast but I’ve done it, almost. Today’s review is of a murder mystery that I rather enjoyed, enough of my babbling and onto the review.

The death of the renowned psychotherapist Dr Themis Greene in Scarborough sends storm waves through the intertwining lives of three of the small seaside town’s residents. The murder in the town perched on the edge of land and sea, pushes Hannah Poole, Aurora Harris and DS Theo Akande to the borderlands. They are forced to explore the edges of reason, understanding, justice and love. What they discover gets them through but is far from perfect. This isn’t gritty crime, this isn’t cosy crime, this isn’t police procedural. This is poetic storytelling which peels back the psychological layers to reveal the raw centre.

As the blurb describes the book follows the death of Themis Greene a psychotherapist who is bludgeoned to death. Discovered by the waif like Hannah a trainee therapist, the investigation begins pulling together different characters and interweaving subplots including Theo, the sergeant investigating and Aurora an expectant, exhausted mother. As the case continues we as a reader are drawn into the different difficult lives of those affected by the death as their hopes and fears are thrown into turmoil and we as the reader get to discover more about them as characters.

The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. The description for example is wonderful throughout; the words used help to set the reader right in the heart of Scarborough. I often disagree with bloggers when it comes to description as I like it plentiful, and often overly so. The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed. This also leads to very strong character profiles. Hannah is a difficult character, insecure and easily daunted I found her story rather heartbreaking. Aurora was my favourite of the characters, a new mother, tired and struggling her anguish felt incredibly real and difficult to swallow. Throughout the author also introduces a number of deep and richly described supporting characters.

The most important point to make however is that this book is less about the crime; this is a softly spoken story on how a sudden event can seriously affect the lives of others and how us as individuals cope and deal with this as people. Yes the book does incorporate a crime, Themis Greene is a rather tricky character and as the plot thickens we learn that she hasn’t been the most ethical in her work after embarking in an affair with one of her patients. By the author acknowledging that a number of characters not only knew but were affected by this it opens the pool of suspects helping to make the crime more intriguing. However the book tends to look at the after effects and weaves these into a thoughtful story.

A couple of quibbles; although this is a book about therapy and character investigation I thought that the author should have made more of the crime side of the story. It had the beginnings of being the perfect division between the two but as the story continued I think it focused too much on the investigation of the characters personally. I also thought the final conclusion of said crime was too easily brushed under the carpet. Although the therapy side of the book is a large part of the plot and obviously something the author wanted to explore it became overwhelming. I also thought that Hannah was a little too bruised to be training as a therapist; it is explained that it is partly due to the trauma of moving in with her parents and her lack of belief in herself but it was a little difficult to understand why she had been pushed so directly in this career path.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I always remark on how well characters are scripted and built up and reading a book so heavily involved in the lives of the characters was very enjoyable. I think the crime should have been made more of a focal point instead of being used as just a host to explore the characters however I will be definitely reading this book again and cannot wait to read more from this author.


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