The Tiger In The Well by Philip Pullman
The third in the Sally Lockhart Quartet, and my favourite to-date. I mean, it’s far too long, and Pullman takes a hell of a time to reveal the menacing bad guy, which was annoying given that I figured out who it was some time in the first two chapters. (I’m not bragging: I’m actually crap at that sort of thing. Most of you would have gotten it in half the time, I’m sure…)
That having been said, this was the first of the Sally Lockhart Mysteries where Sally Lockhart did more than pop up every fifteen pages or so to fret, pout and be generally useless. Finally, Sally was not only the focus of her book, but also a capable heroine. It made for a nice change.
Sadly, after doing quite well for over three hundred pages Pullman seems unable to stop himself, and in the last few chapters he elevates one of the supporting cast to Main Hero who rushes around Heroically fixing the suddenly Very Important subplot, while Sally and the main plot have an insulting and ridiculous deus ex machina thrown at them to make them go away.
If anyone knows of a Philip Pullman book where the high concept isn’t butchered by his total inability to tell a story properly then, well, that’s nice for you, but I think I’m out. Out of masochism and because I’ve already bought my copy, I’ll read the last book in the quartet, but that will bring my total of Pullman books read to seven, which is six more chances than I give most authors…