The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil's WorkThe Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sophie Greenwood’s thrilled to have been accepted into Jackdaw Publishing – a job she’s dreamed of ever since childhood. Crushing down the dark memories of the past, she doesn’t hesitate to jump right in; the work itself showing off her exceptional skill and experience. Paradise doesn’t last long, however, as the mystery of her predecessor begins to chip away at her mind, whilst all things business and personal seem to be at risk.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

My first experience with Edwards was with The Magpies, which introduced me to not only his extremely direct writing style of telling rather than showing, but also his ability to create a sense of unease whilst writing about a situation that could be very real – the former I consider a bad thing, and the latter a good thing, thus the overall impression of his work strikes me as rather average. He likes to delve into the ugly side of humanity, which I appreciate, and raise the question of what people are capable of, and how badly we can treat our fellow man. He does it well enough in this one, despite things coming across as a little too far-fetched at times.

The setting was one of familiarity; the mundane, day-to-day routine of work, with a character who started off as optimistic and happy at having landed her dream job, yet over time became increasingly paranoid and troubled. I couldn’t help but share in Sophie Greenwood’s concerns, as after all, I was merely an observer to her side of events. Even I, at the beginning, accused Cassie of being the antagonist. She was the most obvious, yet we all know; the more obvious someone is, the less likely they’re the actual culprit. Cassie became too obvious, yet there was still something about her, something off…

This is where I need to discuss Cassie, and the apparent reason for her dislikeability. I feel a lesson tried to be included, a moral to the story, and I’m honestly not sure it was executed well. To put it bluntly – it seemed ham-fisted in the representation of autism. I know it’s a very serious developmental disability, and it affects how a person communicates with others, but Cassie was so boldly labelled as the villain for the majority of the book. It was heavily insinuated that if she wasn’t the person trying to make Sophie’s life hell, that she was at least a very questionable individual. To suddenly turn it around and say; “Oh, she was autistic, don’t be so quick to judge!”, was to me, rather poor storytelling. Am I supposed to feel bad or guilty about not liking her? This is someone who clearly flirted with Sophie’s husband, and was in contact with him behind her back – not to mention the other things she did throughout. It occurs to me that perhaps I just didn’t get the point, but I hope I’ve divulged my thoughts clearly.

I didn’t suspect the actual perpetrator, the real woman behind it all, until she made her dramatic appearance. It was a twist for sure, but I was unfortunately left unbelieving. It wasn’t rational enough for me – I certainly didn’t click my fingers and have that “Oh!” moment. With such a build-up and from what I understood of Sophie’s past, I expected it to tie together in the end, but it didn’t. The woman’s accomplice – fine, sure, fair enough. But her? I suppose the insignificant should never be ruled out.

I may have a few complaints, but I didn’t hate the book. It was quick and easy, bringing with it simple entertainment. I enjoyed the shift from present to past; the friendship with Jasmine especially interested me, despite it ultimately having little relevance overall. I assume it was meant to serve as nothing more than a distraction. Sophie herself was unremarkable, and whilst I believed her selfish in some regards, I also tried to picture myself in her position. Imagine trying to be your best, yet some unknown presence threatens your attempt at stability. I’m pretty sure I would’ve handled it just as badly.

In conclusion – It passed the time and was easy to get through, however some aspects left me in disbelief. I hope I can give a higher rating to the next Edwards novel I read.

Notable Quote:

But for fifteen years – since she woke on the morning after her lost night, the hours she still kept locked tight in her memory box – she had carried a sadness with her. Sadness and guilt. It was like a splinter, buried so deep in her skin that she would never get it out. The impurity, the flaw, would be in her forever.

© Red Lace 2018

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  1. Pingback: January in Review

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