Summer 2012 Reading Challenge Book #1: Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings.
Season of Darkness is not a well-put-together book. The story is decent (but not superb), the writing style is easy enough to read, but the editing and proof reading was surprisingly bad for an accomplished and well-known author with wide distribution. Maureen Jennings’ previous work, which became the popular TV movie and program called Murdoch Mysteries, should mean this new trilogy would be well-written and well-edited. Unfortunately there are far too many grammatical errors and omitted words to make it enjoyable. It is amazing how such a few number can slow you down and make you not enjoy the book.
In terms of the mystery element, I found it less suspenseful and more of a “I wonder what happens next” plot. There were a lot of things which I didn’t see coming, but once they happened it was less an element of intrigue as just surprise Jennings went that way. Some of the events also seemed forced, like the only way to make them make sense was to explain them after the fact. This wasn’t all that big of a deal because I had longer breaks between reading, so having an easy storyline was what I needed.
The war element could have been much better. What seemed to be important discussion about Dunkirk failures was forgotten about in the second half of the book and mentioned as an afterthought when Jimmy Tyler is mourned in the final chapter. Really the era is simply a ploy to make a familiar spy story, one that does not need strong development because we are all familiar with British wartime stories.
The British countryside is a nice touch, there is definitely a feeling of being in a small town, but all the action happens at the police office, Alice Thorne’s house, the Prees Heath camp, and Tyler’s home without a real development of the country feel. There is a vague description of two neighbourhood pubs and what seemed to be a surprisingly modern and stylish bachelor pad for Tyler’s love interest.
And that brings me to one of the annoying parts of this book: the love story. It was completely useless! I know each good story needs a bit of romance, but it was like Jennings fell into a soft-core porno lit chapter (or five) of mushy, possibly emotional, possibly pointless sex. I couldn’t tell if it would lead anywhere, I knew it didn’t have too much to do with the story (at least nothing more important than just a mention of Clare and Tom’s history), and I didn’t like reading it. There was also almost no closure for that part of the story or other elements like the aforementioned war element. Jennings should never have forgotten about characters’ stories that were pushed as hard as they were in the first half, and never should have added new surprising details in the final five chapters (of 50+ short chapters) – I mean how the heck did Alice learn how to debilitate and deal with a German spy??? Jennings dear, please supply explanations for your characters…
Overall this book was a decent way to kill time and get into summer reading mode, but if you want a more engaging story, choose something else. I’ll give this a 2.5-3 out of 5 simply because the story is good enough to keep you engaged while reading it, and not too much detail to bog you down. It is a good book to pick up and put down when you need but it won’t fulfill any deep need for suspense or complicated plots.
To see other books I’ve read and check in on my reading challenge, check out my Gooodreads page.