Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Trust - by Ronald H. Balson: Book Review

Title: The Trust
No. Pages:
Publishing Date:
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Kindle

I have read Ronald H. Balson's third book in the Liam and Catherine series, and I even wrote a review for it. I still haven't read the first two books in the series, but this fourth one made me very reluctant.

{this review contains some spoilers, but I couldn't say how much some characters annoyed me without mentioning some context}

Liam Taggart, a Chicago based PI, is summoned by his estranged Irish cousin, Janie, to come to their uncle Fergus' funeral. Upon arriving in Northern Ireland he learns that his uncle was killed. What (most) the family asks of him is to find the killer. The plot thickens when Liam is declared the trustee of his uncle's entire estate and goods, possessions which are to be revealed to the beneficiaries only after Fergus' killer is found. Not every member of his Irish family looks fondly upon his presence in Northern Ireland, all the more due to his past choices.

If you ask my opinion, this novel could easily have been at least one hundred pages shorter. Of all the characters trying to solve the mystery and catch the killer going on a killing spree, none have the ability to think rationally. Maybe Catherine could be a better PI than Liam who is lost and whiny for more than half the novel. The premise of the novel is great; too bad the characters ruined it. 

For starters, Liam, allegedly the great PI, has missed it grandly with his instincts. Although he hasn't seen his Irish family in 16 years, he's so sure that Aunt Deirdre, his cousin Janice and her boyfriend Charles are innocent, despite Inspector McLaughlin's suspicions about each family member, and of course he thinks the cousin with a bad temper must be the killer. For most of the novel Liam wastes time and makes excuses, rarely acting like a PI. And even when he goes into action mode he's reckless and acts like an amateur. His wife Catherine has a better grip on things than he does. However, what I have to say against her is that if there are to be future books in the series, she seriously needs to drop the heroic attitude: when someone prank calls your house, throws rocks through your window, your husband's tires are slashed, his hotel room is ransacked - lady, you need to leave your place and go somewhere safe. Despite all the threats, she claims she's fine and oh, so busy; too busy to think about your life and your kid's? Seriously.

The reader is offered different options for who the killer might be, but they obviously turn out to be the wrong ones. If proper investigation and background check would have been done earlier in the case instead of drinking all that tea and eating so much of Aunt Deirdre's (quote) "yummy food", maybe we wouldn't be so shocked that in the last 60 or so pages every character suddenly becomes good, and only the overlooked character turns out to be the killer. The great Liam looks only into the suspects he fancies, is not at all objective, and he is unprofessional.  Makes no sense to me, and I'm not a PI.

I think the novel would have been better written in third person. The main character's actions would gain less criticism, in my opinion. Can I mention that he refers to his Aunt Deirdre's house as Fortress Deirdre? The first time I understand - it's a joke, but the second and third time it's not. Also, I would like to focus on Annie, who thinks it's a good time to keep a promise she made Fergus. Sure, dear, never mind that there's a killer out there. Unsurprisingly, the big secret turned out to have no relevance to the case. Shocker.

I felt cheated by this novel. It took me more than two weeks to finish it. A mystery novel should make you hold your breath and make you want to read it faster and eagerly. It would have been more appealing if it had been shorter, with characters with a better ability to deal with everything going on.
However, read Karolina's twins. That story is well told and makes more sense.

I received a free e-book copy of the novel from the publisher via Net Galley. All these thoughts expressed here in such a gentle way are mine.

Characters List: {spoilers!}
Liam Taggart - PI, lives in Chicago with his wife Catherine
Catherine - lawyer, lives in Chicago with her husband
Ben - Liam and Catherine's baby boy
Aunt Deirdre - Liam's aunt, Fergus' life-partner
Taggart brothers' birth order: Eamon, Danny (Liam's father), Fergus, Aunt Nora, Robert
Uncle Fergus - Liam's uncle, Liam's father's brother
Uncle Eamon - Fergus' brother, Liam's uncle
Uncle Robert - Fergus' brother, Liam's uncle
Molly - Liam's sister, presumably dead
Janie - Liam's cousin, Robert's daughter
Conor - Fergus' oldest son
Riley - Fergus' youngest son
Annie - Liam's old love 
Mr. Malcolm O'Neill - Fergus' solicitor
Officer Megan Dooley - helps with the case
Inspector McLaughlin - in charge with the case
Seamus McManus - old enemy of the Taggarts and the Catholics
Shankill Butchers - enemies of the Catholics
Archie, Thomas, Edward, Geoffrey Walker - enemies of the Catholics
Charles Dalton - Janice's boyfriend

No comments:

Post a Comment