Leah Looks At: “Bad People” by Craig Wallwork
In this thriller, Craig Wallwork drags the reader through an emotional gamut.
(Hint: the reader = This reader)
What I first imagined would be a thick patina of overused and weary tropes soon evolved into something that I did not expect. May I remind you that I don’t read much detective/noir. I watch it, but don’t spend a great amount of my time in that genre.
The novel opens with Alex Palmer, the ever observant author as he investigates the rural area of Stormer Hill and its growing caseload of missing children for inclusion in an upcoming novel. He is paired with Tom Nolan, the detective assigned to the case. Nolan eyes Palmer with suspicion – as does most of the town, not wanting this hotshot author to turn a profit from the sorrows that have struck the tightly-knit community. A lovable and sweet custodian acts upon misguided good intentions that carry a steep cost.
Here I’m going to refer to a recent post on Twitter from author S. P. Miskowski:
“There are no tropes a writer should “never use.” It isn’t the idea or the premise or the trope. It’s what you do with it that makes it brilliant or meh. If it’s brilliant, your spin on it made it so. If it’s meh, you didn’t do your job well that day.”
Thank you for stating that much more succinctly than I.
Tropes are mentioned here, as I would come across the beginning of one, become disheartened, disappointed, always fearing the worst. Had the lowest of hanging fruits been harvested in the creation of this tale? This led to me closing the book in frustration a few times. Fortunately my fears were unfounded and my persistence was soon rewarded.
This work was presented to me as a mere crime/noir detective novel, but in the process I traversed some very familiar territory and suspenseful sights that leaned heavily towards horror. As our favorite entries often do, the lines have been blurred through any distinct genres. I appreciate the creativity in playing with tropes along with the strong imagery Craig presents to his readers. Let’s be honest, Heironymous Bosch and mentions of the occult are always a welcome touch. I am eager to witness the further adventures of Tom Nolan.
Read outside your preferred genre, they say. You may not be travelling very far, after all.
Just a reminder that you can also catch up with S.P.’s Skillute Cycle HERE