Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Book Review: The Maze Of Cadiz, by Aly Monroe (2008)

There is a fine line between rich descriptive prose and tiresome meaningless text. The Maze Of Cadiz gallops across this line in ignorant bliss and lands deep in drivel territory.

An uninspired little spy story that could have been told in 20 pages is stretched out into 292 almost unreadable pages with endless descriptions of the trite and the meaningless, as author Aly Monroe attempts to recreate the languid pace of life in Spain in book form. The snail's pace and detailed descriptions of every street corner, every building facade, every corner store and every meal in Cadiz suck what life, soul and emotion may ever have been present in the book.

As soon as the novel reveals its style, and it becomes apparent that the incessant details are completely irrelevant to the progress of the story, reading The Maze Of Cadiz is transformed into a huge struggle with a magnetic temptation to skip over huge chunks of deadweight text.

The story that tries to survive the stultifying pace involves British spy Peter Cotton being sent to the seafront outpost of Cadiz in Spain in 1944, as the tide of World War Two is turning strongly in favour of the Allies and the brutal Franco regime is claiming neutrality. Cotton's mission is to arrest another British agent by the name of May, who has apparently gone rogue with unexplained expenses. Cotton arrives in Cadiz to find May dead, and local detective Ramirez is immediately crawling all over Cotton trying to piece together how and why May died.

By the time Monroe, in her debut, reveals just a bit about what happened to agent May, about 200 pages into the book, all possible interest in the simplistic non-adventure has shriveled and died, abandoned in the jungle of overburdened writing.

Published in paperback by John Murray.
292 pages.

The Ace Black Blog Book Review Index is here.

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