I enjoy Sarah Rayne’s books. I want to say that right now. They are frequently a bit cheesy and they’re thrillers and there are Horrible Dark Goings-On and the right people always live through the book, and all this makes me very happy. (I have had one or two complaints about individual plot points, which I may have muttered about on the blog in the past, but I keep buying them and enjoying them.) This is not a complaint.
I am realizing, however, having almost finished my way through her back catalog, that there’s a particular quirk to her writing.
In most books of this sort, somebody’s a murderer.
In these books, everybody’s a murder.
The last one I read had a little old lady murdering people to cover up the other murder which was a cover-up for her mother murdering someone. Meanwhile, one of the murder victims has left a journal where (surprise!) he murders people.
This is not like a mystery where you wonder whodunnit. You know whodunnit, and that they have dun bad, bad things. Often in quite extraordinary quantity.
Much as I enjoy these, I am occasionally bemused by the body count. You can’t help but think somebody would notice all this going on. I’m halfway through this book, and already we’ve had a murderer murdered in the act of murdering somebody else, another murderer’s sister who turned out to have murdered her parents, a definite suspicion that more murder will be going on in the Very Near Future, and by now, incidentally, I have typed “murder” so many times that it no longer has any meaning and I am not sure how it is actually spelled.
Sometimes there is a broad thread that attempts to explain how all these people merrily murdering each other has come together in this particular place and time, which, across several books, has so far been Nazis, conjoined twins, and syphilis. (Syphilis I totally bought. Everybody in the family had it, so of course they were all nuts and killing people. Perfectly valid! Less sure about the conjoined twins. “Because Nazis” is, of course, always a valid literary excuse. Hmm, I may start using “Because syphilis!” as an explanation myself.)
I still have one more to go before I’m through the back catalog, and can only imagine what combinations of murderers, murderers, and more murderers will get put together, like a complicated Jenga set with alibis.