“Crime On The Fens – DI Nicki Galena #1” by Joy Ellis

Original story with some strong characters marred by boiler-plate text.

The was lots to like about “Crime On The Fens”: the police officers were a diverse and believable set of people, the story moves quickly, the plot is full of twists and turns, the dialogue is good and Joy Ellis knows how tug at my emotions and make care about what happens to the people in the story.

I can see that this would make good television. 

Sadly it doesn’t make such a great read because the prose that moves the action along is distractingly bland.

Where was Joy Ellis’ editor? How could s/he let so much boiler-plate, cliché-ridden text through just to keep the story moving? Do we need to know that one of the policemen has steely-grey hair? Or that another “slips like a shadow across a wall” or have a description of a major character’s interior dialogue that reads like stage directions?

I can see how all of these things might be there in a first draft as the writer fully imagines the action. That they made it to the final draft is disappointing..

It also doesn’t help that the narrator of the audiobook can clearly see the pieces of flat prose and tries either to speed through them or gives them an inflexion-free delivery.

I also disliked the decision to change the title. The book was originally called “Mask Wars” which has a ring to it and is relevant to the story. “Crime On The Fens” has that it-will-help-the-punters-see-it-as-part-of-a-series-in-the-Fens thinking behind it that is a little patronising and which sounds bland and boring.

This might work better as an ebook, where I could just skip over the purely functional text and move on to the good bits. The narrator also seemed not quite to have the range to deliver this novel. The accents where all over the place and the pacing was sometimes off.

Take a listen to a sample by clicking on the SoundCloud link below:

I won’t be following up with this series but I will give Joy Ellis’ later series a try to see if the writing/editing has improved.

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