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Boyle, Daniel - 'Illusion'
Paperback: 216 pages (Sep. 2006) Publisher: AuthorHouse ISBN: 1425942008

Daniel Boyle is a successful screenwriter, having written episodes of Morse, Taggart and Rebus, but this is his first novel. It's published by AuthorHouse, and is therefore self-published, which is usually (though not always) a clue to the quality of the prose. In this case I'd have thought that Daniel Boyle, with his track record, would have no difficulty in getting published by a mainstream publisher, if the book was any good. And that's the problem. It's not a good book. It's plotted adequately enough, as you would expect from an experienced scriptwriter, but that's as far as it goes. And it's littered with typos, which intrude dreadfully, though he can hardly be held to blame for that.

The book revolves around John Paris, a private detective in Glasgow. He is hired to protect the wife of a wealthy businessman, Aldis Rowper, who says they have been receiving threats. But it seems that Rowper has another agenda entirely and the wife turns out to be serial adulterer who soon has Paris in her sights. The character of John Paris is entirely unlikeable - he's a widower. His wife and child killed by a man with a grudge against him. But she left him a lot of money, making him very rich and unbearably smug. He's a snob about almost everything - food, clothes, wine, music, films, life in general to such an extent that he's almost unreadable.

I really don't care what variety of organic vintage Stilton he deigns to eat, or what obscure recording of Boccherini he listens to while he eats it. Boyle seems to feel it is necessary for us to know every single detail of what Paris is eating, drinking, listening to, what films he watches and why. Enough already. Similarly, it is not necessary to detail, like a nauseating Glaswegian Sat Nav, every road, every turning, every landmark of every journey Paris makes. This does not give the reader a sense of the great city of Glasgow - it's just irritating.

It's a sign of the inexperienced writer, this urge to flood the book with too much information, which gets in the way of the plot. If you're writing another one of these, Daniel, three words of advice - less is more.

Pat Austin, England
June 2007

last updated 25/06/2007 15:50