Monday, April 14, 2008

The Memoirs of Ludlow Fitch

The anti-climactic ending to F.E. Higgins's The Black Book of Secrets does not detract from either the message of natural justice or stark setting of a victorian age... at least I thought it was victorian. Dark Dickensian influences were abound.

The narrative turns that utilised the full extent of Higgins's three-way setup (Ludlow's diary, the confessions and the 3rd person narrator). They were ways of presenting information to the reader without relying upon other convoluted or contrived methods that would either have required out of character (for the book) info dumps or multiple povs from a many number of characters.

The ending is muted somewhat by its very nature with crisis averted and the reader informed as to what has been concerning Ludlow with his nightmares - and it's not strong enough to carry the suggestion that he has been weighed upon heavily by his "sin". The frog was too obvious a setup (but then, I am an adult... aren't I?) and Joe's reveal was as expected.

And yet... and yet, I couldn't put it down! Higgins has great ability to streamline her scenes, dip in and out and along with ease.

This in particular is of great importance to me at the moment since I seem incapable of choosing when to start a scene, how long to wallow in it, and when to get out again before the reader's eyes roll back in their head. While Higgins spends many a paragraph in describing the characters I waste many of mine in relating past incidents I hope will inform the reader upon the character. I don't feel that either is of particular importance, but then, I've still to learn much about brevity.

So, Higgins... a good read, and the concept stays with you even if the story itself disperses.

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