Book Review – Edinburgh Twilight


“Edinburgh Twilight (Ian Hamilton Mysteries book 1)” by Carole Lawrence

Background/plot:

A dead body is found with a playing card tucked into his pocket. It appears a serial killer is loose in Edinburgh and Ian Hamilton is on the case.

Who are the main characters?

This is titled as book 1 in the “Ian Hamilton” series, and Ian Hamilton is the main protagonist. He’s a Detective Inspector with the Edinburgh City Police and is assisted by Detective Sergeant Dickerson, a couple of street urchins, his Aunty Lily and a most unlikely librarian.

Where is it set?

Edinburgh at the turn of the 19th/20th Century.

My thoughts on the book:

First of all, as a budding novelist myself and knowing what goes into a piece of creative writing of this length, I have to say that Carole Lawrence has done a fantastic job of getting a book written and published, and I have to congratulate her on that, but that I’m afraid is the end of my favourable critique.

This book would have benefited from a decent edit. Too many “scenes” that are nothing to do with the plot, inaccuracies within paragraphs about simple things like the weather – for instance, “it was a typical grey Edinburgh day” in one sentence, and then after a few more sentences the “sun was shining brightly for a change”.

It would have benefited from some decent research too. On EVERY SINGLE PAGE there was something inaccurate, or simply wrong. I can live with American spellings in my reading material, but to use American words and phrases in the narrative is just poor. I would even say it was lazy too, and possibly copied from another series of badly written Scottish novels (Outlander) where historical detail was obtained from “The American Guide to Cute Scottish History” written by Walt Disney.

Middle class ladies would not be cooking chops on the stove for their nephews, they would have a maid or a housekeeper to do that for them. They wouldn’t go shopping for “victuals” neither. The geographical layout of Edinburgh as described in the book is just wrong, and it jarred in my mind whenever I read about the characters walking the “short distance” that in real life would have taken an hour or more. Young couples who were courting would not have been in the pub together mixed in with the brawling, game playing men from the docks. Pubs had separate rooms where women were permitted, and you would have been a “certain type of lady” to have visited them at the time in history this book is supposedly set. There would be NO Edinburgh citizen of that time called “Whitaker Titterington III”. Police cells were not cages but little rooms with solid doors. Station house? That’s where probationary policemen would have lived, not worked with plain clothes policemen. Street urchins would not have been invited to spend the night in the policeman’s “flat”, and a passing acquaintance in the shape of a nosy librarian would NOT have carved a cat flap in the detective’s door on a whim…. oh the list goes on!

The biggest thing that annoyed me was that the attempt at writing Scottish dialect was abysmal. My first question to Carole Lawrence would be, if you wanted to write so many Irish-accented characters, why didn’t you set the book in Dublin? My next question would be, have you ever even heard a Scottish accent in real life? And if you have, have you made a note of the difference between the Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen accents? The attempt to shape the characterisation of the characters by giving them different patterns of speech – whilst I applaud her efforts – ended up where they all sounded the same and indistinguishable from each other, and none of them sounded like they were remotely Scottish. (By the way, “British” isn’t an accent, and Scotland is actually part of Great Britain so is British too)

Will I read the next in the series?

Not unless it has had a MAJOR overhaul in tone, style, characterisation, plotting, research, setting, dialogue, accuracy….

Would I recommend it to my friends?

No. Not even as a light read. I would not inflict this book on anyone I know.

Final note:

I usually don’t proceed with badly written books, but there was something about this one that was just so awful that I had to finish it to see if the end justified the narrative journey. I wanted to throw in the towel every single time I picked my Kindle up and could only manage a couple of chapters at a time (fortunately very short ones) and I hated every single character in it. I’m relieved/not surprised to find that the denouement and closure of the book was every bit as bad as the rest of it and my hunch was confirmed by the employment of Aunt Lily – that genteel lady who cooks her own chops on the stove – as a police artist at the end.

Bad, poor, atrocious, weak, inaccurate, unbelievable, waste of time.

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