Sugar & Spice by Saffina Desforges
Reviewed by Michael Parker
I downloaded the Kindle version of S & S because of the amount of sales the e version has sold and wanted to satisfy my curiosity.
At first I thought I was on to a distinctive, psychological thriller, not that I like to read too much about the horror inflicted on children by paedophiles and serial killers. But I’m a writer myself and unfortunately I tend to pick open the structure of a story rather than absorb it as a reader should. For that reason I believe Desforges has led the reader into believing that there is a high quality thread running through the book that lays out the clues that are necessary to identify the killer and his or her motives. Far from it; too many avenues that opened up led into blind alleys, leaving me wondering when they were going to reveal another clue.
I found the book was swamped with an inordinate amount of information that really did not move the narrative on. For example, how many people wish to know the detailed knowledge of previous serial killers, paedophiles and psychoanalysts of world renown? And how many want to plough through thesis upon thesis of human profiling? And where would you find a boy of fourteen with more than enough knowledge of serial killers and their psyche to challenge that of a professor who lectures in the subject?
For a thriller to work, for me, everything should be used to have an influence on moving the story on, and a lecture on Freud doesn’t do that. And to not include any clue about the killer until the last pages is letting the reader down. Perhaps this is a trick to keep the reader’s interest going. I have to admit that the story is well written, well researched and, obviously, sells well. But I wonder how many people who downloaded the book out of curiosity actually finished it?
The denouement was an absolute let down and required a complete suspension of belief. But hats off to Saffina Desforges; he, she or they have cracked the market.
Michael Parker (September 2011)