Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Death of a God: Review
Death of a God is the fourth book in S. T. Haymon's police procedural series starring Inspector Ben Jurnet. This particular outing finds Jurnet getting a taste of the young pop scene as a local boy-made-good comes home for a rock concert at the local university. Angleby's own Loy Tanner is now the lead singer for the group Second Coming--a rock band with mystical, quasi-religious tones to their music and followers who treat their beloved star as even more of a god-on-earth than is usual for rock group groupies. Jurnet's fiancee, Miriam, manages to get hold of a couple of tickets (winds up that one of her employees is Loy's mum) and she convinces Jurnet to join her for an evening of music. Jurnet is surprised to find himself pulled in by the charismatic band and their "beat." And, even though he is still convinced at the end of the evening that he has somehow been manipulated or brainwashed, he can't deny the effect the musicians had on him....and everyone else within range of the music.
Jurnet and his colleagues are even more surprised the next morning when Loy is found murdered and hung as a replacement in the crucifixion tableau display that had been set up at the request of the Bishop. And as Jurnet digs into the young man's past and relationships he learns that the rock god truly did have feet of clay. His friends and fellow band members had a real love-hate relationship with Loy. Loving the musician he was and the influence of his personality and music and yet hating the way he could use that talent and charisma to make them to do and be anything he wanted. The case quickly moves from no suspects ("no one could possibly want Loy dead") to too many. It doesn't help that Jurnet's personal life and personal feelings cloud some of the issues for him. He finally discovers the key to puzzle of who Loy Tanner really is and who would want him dead--but will he be to late to prevent another death?
Jurnet is a down-to-earth, introspective, very human policeman. Sometimes just a bit too much so--he spends quite a lot of time considering his relationship with Miriam. And I was quite tired of that relationship by the end of the book. She insists that he convert to Judaism before she will consent to marry him--not because she's particularly devout, but,as she puts it, because if there ever comes a time for the British Jews to become outcasts as her people have so often been in the past then she wants to be sure that her husband is on the outcast side with her. Jurnet seems to be making honest efforts to convert and makes all sorts of allowances for her weird moods and yet she removes herself from his apartment mid-way through the book. Only to be hastily reunited with him at the end...a move that quite honestly makes no sense plot-wise or through character development. Jurnet hasn't changed to conform any better with what she wants and her change of attitude just seems convenient rather than logical.
That aside, the mystery is quite decent--although not quite as good as Ritual Murder (#2) or A Very Particular Murder (#5)--and should keep the reader guessing till the end. The style is very fluid and easy to read, making this a nice comfortable book to settle down with for an evening. Three stars.