The Crime Writer
By Jill Dawson
By the Orange Prize-shortlisted Jill Dawson, a riveting novel that folds a brilliant portrait of Patricia Highsmith into a tale of duplicity, madness and murder.Tweet
Most of our number, who started this book, did finish it, as it was quite an easy read. Some thought it became a little tedious at times, but it picked up again. We wondered how Jill Dawson managed to imply that Ms Highsmith committed a murder – or did she. It was not clear if the events were real or written as a dream sequence.
We all thought it was clever to have written the book in the style of Patricia Highsmith and we understand that many of the small details in the book were correct, for example, her fascination with snails and the fact that she went to a function with a rotting head of lettuce and snails in her handbag. She was a complex character and this came through in the writing. It appeared that she had a troubled childhood and did not get on with her mother. On the one hand Patricia was reported to be mean, cruel, unloved and unloving but on the other more positive side she was considered plain spoken, dryly funny, difficult, but a brilliant writer.
Most of the characters were really quite unlikeable but we did like the character Ronnie, as he came across as sympathetic to her, perhaps the only person in the book who liked her, not just for what she could give them. We were confused however as to how he became such a close confidante so quickly as she appears to have only met after recently moving to the village
To sum up, we quite enjoyed the book and did feel inclined to find out more about Patricia Highsmith. Writing in the style of the main character, we thought was clever. Out of 10, we scored it a 6.