I first read James Hawes when I first started to break out of the limited SciFi/Fantasy list of authors that I used to read. I picked up a double edition of A White Merc With Fins and Rancid Aluminium at a WHSmiths at train station (looking for something to read for the journey) and found I enjoyed both books a lot.
That was over ten years ago and Dead Long Enough had me wondering whether those were better books or whether my tastes have changed dramatically. Perhaps I was so ready for something different back then that Hawes seemed fresh and interesting. Perhaps in the 8 or 9 years between buying and reading this book I’d gotten too old for its themes.
Perhaps, but then again perhaps not, I think more happened in those other books.
Harry is a trendy “young” TV archaeologist who has an annual ritual of celebrating his “fake birthdays”* with his friends. This year, as they are all nearing or just past 40, they take a trip back to Harry’s native Dublin and discover something about his past, including why (and who) he left.
As you might have guessed I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I found it a struggle to finish. Unlike my memory of his two previous books there seemed to be an awful lot of tell and not show, and an awful lot of both was very repetitive. There were long passages waxing lyrical in different ways essential on one thing – it sucks to get old. It took at least 2/3rds of the book for the action to really start. The first part is basically the introduction and backstory of the characters, their meeting up in a London pub and journey to a Dublin pub and then party. Meanwhile we get lots of ruminations both as narration and dialogue on what it means to hit middle age. I found it tedious.
When things finally did start to happen I didn’t feel like they made a huge amount of sense. As you know I’m not normally picky with plot holes – but when I am it’s because I stopped caring about the characters and story and started unravelling things. Here I never really started to care.
4/10 – long enough and dead boring.
(*He lies about his age for his job and so celebrates the birthday of the age he claims to be.)