Review of The Business Of Dying by Simon Kernick

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The Business of Dying is the debut novel by successful crime writer Simon Kernick. It tells the story of Dennis Milne, a copper who also kills people on the side, the people who escape justice. One night he gets involved with the murder of three men who appear to be ‘innocent’ and the repercussions from this night have life changing implications for the policeman.

While the premise of the book intrigued me from the start, I have to say that the main character and the ensuing events left me cold. I just didn’t care. There was no reason given for Milne to take the law into his own hands, he just … kills people, his main motivation seeming to be money. Given his apparent disregard for human life, why he should then care so much for the young junkie prostitutes seems a real contradiction.

There were no positive female characters in the book: each woman was a whore, a junkie, or both.

Kernick gave an unnecessary level of detail to the most mundane incidents. For example, Milne went for lunch with his colleague, Malik. They went to McDonald’s where Malik had chicken McNuggets and Milne had a Big Mac and fries with a hot apple pie for dessert. I should care about this why? Did it take the story forward? Did it show me some new element of the character relevant to the story? I have to say that the answer, for me, was no.

I know this was Kernick’s debut novel and I am sure he has honed his craft since then. But on the strength of this first book, I wouldn’t be reading the next.

I am in the minority with my opinion of this book. It has an average of 4 stars on Amazon.co.uk. This just isn’t my type of crime novel. Sorry.

You can buy The Business Of Dying from Amazon.co.uk here
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2 Comments

  1. Jan Carr
    Feb 17, 2011

    Sounds like a very dull version of ‘Dexter’.

  2. Glynis Smy
    Feb 17, 2011

    Mm, not sure if I would enjoy reading about McDonalds, from a man who appears to consider women in poor light.

    Thanks for the review, Nettie.

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