I am currently reading a novel (courtesy of the Amazon Vine programme). It is, I suppose, a thriller, a first novel re-issued by Amazon publishing. It has had good reviews so far, and I am baffled.
Because if this book has been edited at all, then how has the writer got away with so many basic errors?
For start, there's the opening sentence: "'Hurry up, Katy,'" Jake Crosby called out, as he took a wet tennis ball from his aged Lab Scout."
Hardly gripping stuff, and as for the name of the "aged Lab", who needs that at this stage? A small point, but as we all know, openings are crucial. Then there is the mix of POVs. One minute we are with someone who's on the phone, the next, we are suddenly told the the person he's talking to is "gazing at the ceiling". How do we know? We aren't with that character. This happens repeatedly, as we skip from one POV to another.
Meanwhile, everyone's scurrying about in a forest in the middle of the night looking for villains. A deputy sheriff finds a girl bound and gagged, and forgets to remove the gag or even ask her how or who she is; he just bundles her into his van and heads for home, feeling like a hero. There's the police dog which would rather lick its balls (it does this all the time) than work, which as well as being unbelieveable adds nothing to the plot. There's the excess use of adverbs, the avoidance of "said" if he can write "explained", "demanded" or whatever, the lengthy phone calls ("Bye,", "bye", "love you", "love you" etc etc), no doubt true to life, but not remotely interesting. Sometimes, there are simply too may words.
And yet this novel has the bones of a good story (probably not really my kind of book, but that's not the point). So why, oh why, didn't someone edit it properly? Those of us who have suffered (at the hands of an editor) the pain of having our favourite passages removed in the interests of plot; who have been (quite rightly) picked up on every little error or repetition, will know that while this is a painful process, it is essential, and leads to a tighter, better novel.
This particular novel is American, and there are things in it that might only be understood by the author's compatriots, but surely any novel by any author needs some good editing. Maybe many readers won't mind any of this, but I can't help feeling that the loose editing (if indeed there's been any editing at all) must have compromised the chances of this novel. And what a shame.