Too clever for its own good

The Tomb of Zwaab by Martin James


I picked this book up at a second hand book store and the blurb sounded interesting. I figured why not give it a go, get outside your reading comfort zone.
This book is ambitious in that it takes off at a furious pace and for 50 plus pages you really do not have a clue as to what is happening. The problem is that there is a book that precedes this one called the Night Train. It  really did feel like the author, Martin James presumed you had read it. So when you come to the Tomb of Zwaab there appears to be a massive presumption that you know who the characters of Muldoon and Rick Piranesi are. That you know Muldoon suffers schizophrenia and you know that he is great at making things up. The problem is you do not and it takes for ever to figure out who is who in this book.
The book tries to be too clever with descriptions and sending up private detective stories and films. The result is that you are battered with these parodies on every single page and they get tedious. Especially when the cutting down of a tree takes up an entire paragraph for example:
'Rick shrugged and continued up the drive, rounding a bend screened by a dense profusion of morbid rhododendrons. The unmistakable whine of an aroused chainsaw met his ears, It ceased as abruptly as it started and was followed by a faint splintering noise. This too died away, merging with a long-drawn-out cry which ended in a rustling thud. Rick's eyebrows arched slightly and then resumed their normal low position.'
I hope I never meet an aroused chainsaw!
When you have so much clever writing thrown at you, the reading can become a chore and this is what happened here.
I have tried to find out more about the author but have been unable to.
The author provides this bio in the book:
'Martin James was born in England in 1943 during an air-raid. He fled to Australia in 1958, where he holed up til 1967. Since then he has surfaced briefly in London, Toronto and Paris, where he now lives incognito. He has also passed quickly through many motel rooms all over Mexico and the United States. His dossier, long stamped 'Inactive', includes such covert activities as filing clerk, schoolmaster, snow-shoveller, cartoonist, cleaner, folk-singer and dishwasher. He is the author of Night Train.'

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