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5 daysIsn’t it a pity when a writer you’ve always been hooked on stops delivering? That’s the way I feel about Douglas Kennedy.

I discovered his novels a year or so ago with The Woman in the Fifth and couldn’t get enough of them. I was amazed; every single one I read was so gripping. The Big Picture; The Dead Heart (his first and my favourite); The Job; Temptation; Leaving the World, State of the Union – I loved them all.

Kennedy’s repeated theme, the protagonist who suddenly finds life is stacked against them, and goes on the run from society, is one that gets me every time. It’s an endlessly fascinating plot device – the world can turn on any one of us in an instant – and what would we do then?

While not exactly intellectual reads, these are intelligent, humane, solid page-turners and kept me up late into the night when I should have been sleeping.

So I’ve been disappointed when the latest couple of novels, The Moment, about a man remembering a long-ago love affair in East Germany, and this year’s Five Days, about a downtrodden woman’s brief fling, haven’t measured up, at least to me as a big fan. I diligently persisted with each until about halfway through, then ended up putting each one down with a sigh. They were so flat and slow-moving; all the pacey plottiness had vanished.

Perhaps it’s because Kennedy is focusing on love stories, when I’m expecting his classic thrillers? It’s not that I don’t like love stories – but maybe I just don’t like these ones.

I’m hoping it’s just a blip and the Kennedy style I love will be back in another year or so with a killer new novel. Please?

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