Top critical review
Muddled and, ultimately, disappointing
on February 25, 2003
I loved The Long Firm; it was wonderful. So, naturally, I bought author Arnott's second book, He Kills Coppers. After the opening sequence, I started to wonder if I was having an extended senior moment (age often has nothing to do, I've discovered, with those senior moments. A tedious book can induce them; so can bad rap music.) I couldn't figure out which character was which, what was happening, or why.
This is a book that could have used some serious definition, instead of simply placing asterisks between sections. Those asterisks, one learns after much confusion, indicate a shift to another character. And some of the characters are written in third person, some in the first. As well, the copy-editing leaves much to be desired. (Who's instead of whose was one of my favorite goofs.) References to both Beatniks and hippies in supposedly the same era distorts the time frame--Beatniks were of the 50s, hippies of the latter 60s and early 70s. So it's not only hard to jump from one character to the next, it's also tough figuring out the era.
At moments, the book leaps to life and for twenty or thirty pages it becomes gripping. Then the grip eases and we're back in the muddle--reading of characters about whom it's hard to care; killers, cops, thugs of every stripe. And, finally, an ending that leaves one thinking, "So what?"
A very disappointing effort.