Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Turning

by Paul J. Newell


In The Turning we see life through the eyes of Lleyton Quinn, a man with a wry way of looking at things. He is being quizzed by a homicide detective about the case of a woman who has mysteriously disappeared.

Lleyton has a sharp wit and a habit of going off at a tangent that makes him a very engaging character. On first impressions, Paul J Newell seems to be the kind of writer who could turn something as mundane as the boiling of a kettle into a fascinating story. The narrative is positively brimming with insights and quirky observations. However, Lleyton's one bugbear is the dullness and ultimate pointlessness of daily routine. As you might imagine, some of this ennui infects the reader, because it isn't exactly the most exciting of subjects.

That's not to say that nothing goes on in The Turning, far from it. In this near-future world the detective, Melissa, is investigating a chain of disappearances that she believes is somehow connected to Lleyton. One at a time people are inexplicably going missing, and each missing person is connected to the next case in some way. Since Melissa's partner was the last person to disappear we are left wondering how long it will be before she too goes missing, and whether Lleyton will soon follow.

Interspersed throughout the book are flashback scenes concerning a frightened boy at some kind of occult gathering, and references to an enigmatic figure known as The Collector. It isn't until very late on in the story that it becomes clearer how this all fits together.

Unfortunately this lack of clarity is one of the major flaws of The Turning. By the middle of the book we're not much closer to finding out what is happening. The plot rambles in the same way that Lleyton does, and the book becomes bogged down in the humdrum experiences of daily life. Much of the action is punctuated by long passages of philosophical whingeing on the part of Melissa and Lleyton, where they expound theories that are not so much enlightening as banal and obvious. Far too much preaching is going on. The author has not allowed actions and settings to speak for themselves.

When the pieces of the puzzle do finally start to come together at the end, they fail to convince. It's not simply that a hefty suspension of disbelief is required, although this novel does turn out to be more science fantasy than science fiction. The trouble is that the only believably drawn character is Lleyton himself, and everything that happens to him is too obviously a vehicle for his political and ecological beliefs. So even though The Turning starts out as a very promising novel, it never manages to deliver a riveting conclusion that would do justice to the beginning.

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books

  Science fiction
    Male Protagonist  

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson