Lauren St John’s novel The Obituary Writer had been sitting on my shelf for almost three years until it finally felt like the right book to read. I guess you know these moments, right? 🙂
One day, Nick Donaghue, an obituary writer for THE TIMES, is on his way to work, when he is involved in a horrible train crash where he is the only one escaping unharmed. While everybody else thinks Nick to be very fortunate, his life is turning into a literal nightmare. After months of sleepless nights, he moves from London to an old beach house in Cornwall where he runs into Sasha and has to give up his notion of living a quiet and secluded life.
It is hard to put this novel into a literary genre. The Obituary Writer starts out as a mystery with thriller elements, then it turns into a love story. This would have been okay. Unfortunately, the romance is soon sprinkled with paragraphs right out of an erotic novel that seem utterly out of place. And to top it all off, there’s a little bit of crime here, and some sick lit ² there. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with mixing genres if the mix is homogeneous. In this case it isn’t and it seems like the author wanted to try out all these different genres to see how they worked for her.
Other than that, The Obituary Writer is an entertaining novel. It sucks you in right at the beginning and holds your attention for quite some time. The middle is a little slow, but the narrative takes up speed again in the last third of the book.
While we get to know Nick Donaghue’s character – his feelings, fears and doubts – very closely, most of the other characters stay in the background. It would have been nice to get a better understanding of Sasha, the woman who attracts Nick’s attention.
If you are as drawn to this novel by its beautiful cover as I was, you might as well give it a try, but it will not be a smooth ride, that’s for sure. And if you’ve already read The Obituary Writer, I’d like to know what you thought about the ending. But no spoilers please!
² There is a spoiler hidden underneath. If you still want to see it, just highlight the text with your mouse.