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by Dana Cameron
Avon, November 2002
357 pages
ISBN: 0380819554

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Dana Cameron's first crime novel, SITE UNSEEN, was a classic example of write what you know about -- and it was none the worse for that. Its sequel, GRAVE CONSEQUENCES, is severely flawed, though.

Archaeologist Emma Fielding is on a working holiday in England -- and here the problems start. Cameron seems to have made only the most superficial of attempts to portray England accurately -- finding out how the UK's university system works, for example, shouldnąt pose that great a challenge in the internet era. Most infurating is her habit of having local characters speaking like Americans. Hearing an aristocrat finish his sentences with 'is all' rather than 'that's all' and having an elderly shopkeeper offer Emma a candy bar threw me right out of the book and made me fume at the laziness of either the writer or the publishers (or both!) when it came to getting such a basic issue checked.

In SITE UNSEEN, Emma's ambition and stroppiness were believable. In GRAVE CONSEQUENCES, though, her character portrayal is negligible -- and the same goes for most of the surrounding cast. I'm not averse to books peopled by unattractive characters, but I really don't think that's what Cameron was aiming for. And Emma's motivation is highly questionable and unrealistic when it comes to investigating the murder. When it comes down to it, the book has too little archaeology and too much waffle.

Aside from the shallow characterisation, the plot is sluggish and the setting in the imaginary town of Marchester not that compelling. I was left with the lingering feeling that Cameron had been given a whistle-stop tour of small-town England during a holiday, and thought she could write a book based on that.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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