Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: "The Girl on the Pier" by Paul Tomkins

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Patrick is a forensic sculptor, helping to identify unknown murder victims through his work. His latest assignment is to reconstruct the skull of an unidentified girl found on Brighton's run-down West Pier in the 1970s. Yet while he is determined as always to give his all to his job, he can't stop thinking of a summer night he spent on the West Pier in 1993, a night spent in the company of Black, a beautiful photography student. But as soon as he started to get to know Black, she disappeared without a trace.

"It's the story of my life: desiring the impossible woman."

As Patrick works to reconstruct the girl's skull, he remembers fragments of his life—his childhood and the turmoil he experienced, being abandoned by many people he cared about throughout his life, as well as how he came to be a forensic sculptor. He wants to solve the mystery of who the girl was, and solve the mysteries of his own life. Neither challenge is an easy one.

Paul Tomkins' The Girl on the Pier is fascinating—the plot takes all sorts of twists and turns, and Tomkins provides so much interesting detail, particularly around Patrick's career, and the steps he takes in his work. (I'll admit, with all of the crime novels and thrillers I've read, I don't believe I've ever read about a forensic sculptor, so that was pretty cool.) And Patrick is an intriguing character, one who demonstrates how powerful memory can be, and how moldable memories are.

My one criticism of this book is the non-linear way the story is told. I found myself having to double back more than a few times and re-read passages, just so I could better orient myself to the flow of the story and figure out what was being talked about. But once I got further into the story, I didn't find that as unsettling, although it took some getting used to.

If you're a fan of crime novels and thrillers, definitely add this one to your list. It's tremendously intriguing and different, and you can't say that about every book you read.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for your review, Larry - which I was directed to yesterday. It seems an extremely fair review to me, so thanks again.