Top critical review
Good beginning, mediocre middle, poor ending.
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2022
Debut author Katherine Faulkner offers us “Greenwich Park,” a domestic mystery involving young London professionals, the perils of maternity, and the consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil.
Helen and Daniel live in London’s upscale Greenwich Park and lead an idyllic life. Well, except that Helen lost both her parents in a car crash and has suffered four miscarriages. But all that’s behind them now. A new baby is on the way. And the maternity class Helen is attending brings a new friend, Rachel. She’s a bit of an odd duck. But Daniel is so busy with the architectural firm he runs with Helen’s brother (founded by Helen’s father) that Helen can use a new friend. So, when Rachel needs a place to stay, how can Helen say no? And that’s when Daniel’s and Helen’s life begins to go awry and everyone, readers included, starts wondering who Rachel really is, why she’s suddenly disappeared, and where she could have gone.
It’s a story comprised of elements employed by a host of past novels, books, and plays. The challenge for author Katherine Faulkner was to make this rendition somehow fresh and exciting.
The good news? Ms. Faulkner knows how to put words on a page. At the book’s beginning, I immediately felt I was in the hands of a professional. Descriptions were clear. Dialogue was natural and believable. And, initially, I was interested in the story. The characters had my attention. I enjoyed the Greenwich Park setting. And Ms. Faulkner planted many questions I wanted answers to.
But as the story progressed, my interest waned. Turns out, those characters weren’t so engaging after all. In light of all that goes on under her nose, main character Helen seems all too passive and more than just a bit dim. Husband Daniel is overworked, aloof, and cold. Her brother Rory can’t stay faithful to his wife and sloughs his work off onto others. And the only thing going for Rachel seems to be her penchant for inappropriateness and overstepping boundaries. In short, by the time I was halfway through the novel, I’d discovered there wasn’t anyone I particularly wanted to spend time with.
I also found the length and structure of “Greenwich Park” to be problematic. It’s overlong by about a quarter. By the time I was 75% of the way through I was more than ready for it to end (especially since it was turning predictable.) Also, the tale is told from multiple points of view, skipping from character to character, which I found jarring and taxing since I kept having to ask myself: “Who is this character again? What were they doing when we left them two, three, or six chapters ago?” Finally, the author waits until the very end to answer most of the questions she’s planted. To do that, she gives us two large “information dumps” meant to tell us the “real story” of what happened. In other words, Ms. Faulkner ends her novel with lots of “telling” and very little “showing.”
All in all, three stars.