Tried to read J Sheridan Le Fanu's THE WYVERN MYSTERY while an elderly relative who is in rehab slept for periods during my visits, but hospital wards are noisy, busy places, I'm not one who can really concentrate on reading when surrounded by distractions, and the French-Irish writer didn't exactly pen simple to follow, one comma sentences (& WYVERN, btw, wasn't one of his better works). Had to find something easy to read, but also entertaining to while away the hours and just happened to notice Sarah Rayne's TOWER OF SILENCE; the synopsis on the back cover of the paperback sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot and, for the first 450 or so of the novel's 491 pages, I was quite happy with my purchase ... 'til the ending ...
As the plot is, as I noted, provided on the back cover and has also been elaborated in Amazon's Book Description and by some of my fellow reviewers, I needn't go into it, except to say that the many coincidences in this story require the usual suspension of disbelief as regards this type of thriller/mystery/crime story, but the last coincidence, which is revealed ten pages from the end*, is just one too many. Furthermore, as another reviewer implied, a logically expected meeting that the author has seemed to build up to betw either of two main characters and a minor one** is denied us and, instead, we are given the rather unsatisfying - and illogical*** - demise of one of the central characters. The gathering of the "white hats" at the end of the story to provide the pretext for exposition is also disappointing since, while it's nice to have "loose threads tied up", one doesn't need to read what happens to/became of minor characters after the climax and since one wd have figured that a writer of Rayne's imagination and skill cd have penned a less cliched conclusion. And, while we're at it, why does a protag mistake a minor character for another at the end even though they've already met and, indeed, interacted for quite some time?****
* that crime writer Joanna Savile is Ingrid's much younger sister
** aside from irony, why did Rayne include the "Pippa" character in the book and reveal her to be the supposedly deceased Christabel Maskelyne IF she didn't intend for her to meet her sister, Mary, or reunite with childhood friend Selina March?
*** Selina, who was petrified of the top of Alwar's Tower of Silence - as well as Inchcape's Round Tower - becuz the "ogre birds" were up there, nonetheless climbs to the summit at the climax as if that wasn't the case
**** Mary mistakes Joanna for her former lover Ingrid despite having spoken at length with the writer earlier in the story
This is all too bad becuz Mayne's omniscient 3rd person narration does a good job of drawing the reader in with the stories and perspectives of several interesting characters, with very revealing and not at all confusing "flashbacks" into the histories of two protags, with nice characterization that demonstrates the author's fine grasp of human psychology, with Gothic features (e.g. remote settings, horrific secrets, ancient buildings/ruins, a disfigured character, a strange ritual, a dungeon, etc), and, 'til the unfortunate last 50 pages or so, with excellent plotting. And, it is this that makes TOWER OF SILENCE, in the end, such a disappointment - for me, anyway.
Nonetheless, I believe that many others may not find the aforementioned plot points so problemmatic and it wdn't surprise me if they found this a very good cover-to-cover read.
Word of warning 'tho: some of the violence depicted in TOWER is quite graphic and if one has a fear of birds - esp large ones - this is def not the book for you. Enjoy