Bingo: Reader’s Choice, replacing the Roaring 20s square
Everyone makes mistakes, but I now have to spend my Sunday night grappling with the fact that I chose to read this book of my own free will. I am not okay.
It seems like the general consensus is that Sophie Hannah’s first few Spilling CID mysteries were okay–at least worth reading if you like that sort of thing. I certainly did–I remember tearing through the first three or four. I kept reading after that, even with steadily diminishing returns, as the plots got more and more outlandish, as Simon Waterhouse morphed from an odd duck to someone who needs professional help, as the mysteries became less and less the point of the books, and instead we were reluctantly thrust into the strangest marriage I’ve ever read about, as we were forced to spend time with Charlie Zailer’s odious sister, and as Charlie herself was reduced from a badass detective into Simon’s wife (why?) and the audience surrogate whose main job is to constantly ask Simon to please share what he’s figured out about the mystery (and if only he did so these books would be a great deal shorter). After reading #7 or #8 or so, I finally gave up and decided to read good books instead. A few days ago, though, I was browsing through books on my library’s website and saw that this was available. The plotline sounded kind of interesting (pairs of best friends are being murdered), so I ignored my intuition and checked it out.
Friends, learn from my mistakes. With The Next to Die, Hannah has crossed the line from outlandish to offensively terrible. For the most part, it moved along at a brisk pace (in contrast to how I remember some previous books in the series dragging) and up until the end, I was actually enjoying reading about Simon and Charlie. BUT THEN I GOT TO THE END.
First of all, Charlie spends most of the book obsessed with the secret her sister is keeping. I was interested in this, until I found out what it was. It is the stupidest thing, literally so unbearably stupid, that I am at a loss for words. If the murder mystery about the best friends dying had been resolved well, though, I maybe could have let it slide. But it was not resolved well. I think I can safely say that the murderer’s motive is hands down the most ridiculous motive I have ever read, and I’ve read a lot of mysteries. It is SO BAD. SO bad. It is garbage. I cannot state this strongly enough. I can’t believe this book was published with this as the motive. I can’t believe this book currently has a 3.05 star rating on Goodreads.
Also, there’s a trans-exclusionary radical feminist thrown in as some sort of red herring and I don’t know why. And at the end of the book Simon is thrown into a panic because Charlie has invited someone to stay at their house and he’s afraid this person will keep watching TV after he and Charlie go to sleep and that they will leave indents in his couch. His reaction is explained away as being because his parents never had overnight guests when he was a kid. Unless his parents were Joan Crawford and Mork, THIS IS NOT AN EXPLANATION. Actually, if it turns out someday that Simon is actually from another planet, I would buy that more than I buy that he is just your standard Holmesian misanthrope.
I know I have no one to blame but myself for reading this. And I have to live with that knowledge forever. I share this in the hopes that others will not repeat my mistake.