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The Man in the Bottle - Bill Knox

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Bill Knox / Edition: New edition / Hardcover / 224 Pages / Book is published 2003-11-27 by Constable

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      10.10.2009 10:04
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      Average crime thriller

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Detective Chief Inspector Colin Thane and DI Phil Moss are called in when a Salmon poacher blows himself up in the Millside area of Glasgow. What looks initially as a simple case of identify the body and tell the dead man's next of kin, is complicated by his fishing partner being missing. The missing man upon investigation is found to have links with four missing Lithuanian Sailors, who have also disappeared. Rumour has it they were planning to defect to the West.

      Meanwhile there is a VIP visiting this region in the form of General Igor Shashkov the Soviet Minister for Industrial Development. As the two detectives start to investigate the missing men they realise that this important Politians life is in grave danger and a failed assessination attempt follows. They must find these missing men before they can cause a diplomatic incident and achieve their goal of killing this high profiled yet feared Russian.

      ==My thought on the novel:==

      I found this a very strange crime thriller. At times for me it was really slow and hard work to get into and enjoy, yet at others I found it quite stimulating and exciting. The book is set in Scotland in the 1960's, which may add to my problems in that some of the characters within it have strong Scottish excents, which for me makes it quite hard to read and understand exactly what they mean.

      Bill Knox was a very successful writer and in a long career he wrote 64 novels, this was one of his earlier ones within the popular Thane and Moss series being written in 1963. And despite being written so long ago I think the story still hold up well today, as despite not having the Cold War to consider a lot of the principles still apply, such as VIP's being assassinated and people going missing.

      Initially I really struggled to get into the story and I felt little was happening to get excited about. Even the banter between the Police Officers seemed weak and by today's standard quite tame. It was only when the purpose and the significance of the missing Lithuanian Sailors and the missing local man Peter Herrald that the story really took on any meaning and interest for me. It took too long for this to happen as I had read a quarter of it before this happened and I had seriously considered giving it up as a bad job by then.

      For that time onwards it was exciting, as the Police needed to both protect the Russian Minister while at the same time piece together where the missing men had been and catch up with them before they killed him. But still something was missing for me, perhaps again the time but it seemed to take time for things to develop properly. Indeed I struggled with the idea of these missing men and only the occasional sighting of them despite them being foreign and not part of the community.

      What I liked about this story was the mystery and suspense than ran through the story. The Detectives needed to investigate and put together the hard to find clues to solve the mystery. With some intelligent thinking the author was able to always keep the reader in their toes with several excellent twists in the story. Although I hoped and expected these, they were generally well thought out and often changed the direction the Police where working in.

      I also enjoyed the fact it was good old fashioned Policing. That the Detectives had to use their brains, luck and a lot of hard work to discover the truth. This in sense slowed the pace of the story down as everything needed to be thoroughly investigated and where as these days the Police could use survaliance cameras in those they relied on tracking down members of the Public who may have seen or heard unusual sights.

      This is the second novel I have read that feature Moss and Thane and to be honest I don't feel and empathy or closeness to their characters than I did when I started the first story. Although they are clearly good Detectives for me I find nothing unusual or noteworthy about their characters or personalities. I just feel the author should have made more effort making his lead characters distinctive and one you felt you had things in common with. In truth I felt more interest and empathy for some of the characters who played smaller roles, some of these I could identify with and would like to have known more about and for them to have a bigger role in the story.

      I struggled to get to gripps with this authors writing, again it could be that it was written a long time ago, but I still did not feel in a lot of respects this story had enough depth to it. Yes you had good twists within it but I would have liked more background especially on the characters themselves.

      The story itself was very short at only 189 pages, which I think was about right to tell this story. It had a good unusual conclusion, which I had actually guessed but still one that was interesting and made sense of everything that had happened before it.

      ==Conclusion:==

      For me this was a real mixed bag of a thriller. Overall I think the story was very good, it took a while to get going but I enjoyed the way the story all linked up. I thought finding the missing men was exciting and I enjoyed the twists the author employed within it. I did though struggle a bit with some of the accents and found the novels two star Detectives to be a bit bland and struggled to feel much empathy for them. I think for this reason I will not recommend this crime novel as I think there are better ones from this period within the market place.

      Thanks for reading.

      This review is published on Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

      @CPTDANIELS October 2009

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