Yes. I know.
In my defence, it was part of a bundle of ten books purchased in a cardboard slipcover from WH Smiths after Christmas for thruppence ha'penny. I read the other nine books weeks ago, and they have since been passed on to suitable homes.
The John Francome one lurked. It watched me with its beady little eyes. It hurled itself off the top of my teetering pile of unread books every so often just in case I'd forgotten about it. It reminded me, when it managed to catch my attention, that I had paid for it and that it would therefore be a Moral Outrage for me to send it straight to the charity shop without giving it a chance.
Yes, well. I know better now.
To liken the characters in this least thrilling of thrillers to cardboard cut-outs would be to imbue them with entirely too much depth. What's that impossibly-thin paper called which is used to make the pages of Bibles? Onion skin? That's how deep they were.
To make matters even less convincing, just when you thought you'd grasped the basics of a particular character, the sands shifted violently beneath your feet.
Take the bookie. Right nasty piece of work. Womanising, violent, unscrupulous, feared amongst the underclass of the racing world. Hard as nails and twice as unpleasant. Until he looks into the drugged eyes of our heroine. At which point he falls helplessly in love; reneges on the multi-million pound international arms deal in which she would have been harmed and, as a result, is summarily executed on a beach. Yeah, right.
His opposite was the charming race steward. Diffident, well-spoken, gentle and kind. Oh, but that was just a front. Turns out he's former-SAS, Has Issues, and isn't really very nice at all. In the final scenes of the book (yes, I read right through to the end), the only thing which prevents him killing our heroine in cold blood is the arrival at the window of a paid assassin who also wants to kill her. Distracted from his intended task, the race steward hurls himself at the intruder, and they both plummet to their deaths several storeys below. Or something. I don't know. I wasn't really concentrating. Anyway, our onion-skin-flimsy heroine survives to ride another day. Big whoop.
The thing is, though, I was always vaguely under the impression that it's the responsibility of some poor, benighted junior member of staff in the publishing house to check the text the author has submitted for screaming errors.
In which case, it's really rather hard to imagine how "curb-crawler" (sic) got through.
But the best bit (the bit which makes having read through the whole bloody thing Very Nearly Worthwhile) is the description of someone closing a door sarcastically.
Now, call me emotionally inarticulate if you like, but how the hell do you perform an action as simple as closing a door sarcastically?? I can see how you could do it violently. Or gently. Or angrily. Because those are all methods which would have an effect on the degree of noise produced by the door closing. But how is the person upon whom you have just closed the door supposed to gather that you did it in a sarcastic way? Remember, you've gone: all they can see is the door.
Lady Bracknell is still away, so I'm pretty much holding the fort on my own here. This makes it rather difficult for me to try out my theory. So, if those of you who live in multi-person households could experiment and report back, I'd be very grateful.
Shut the door on your spouse/flat-mate/offspring/PA. Do it as sarcastically as you can manage*. Then go back into the room and ask your victim to describe the way in which you closed the door.
If you're feeling particularly creative and/or mischievous, you may want to try out a few other adverbs. Can you, for example, shut a door joyously? How about bitterly? Or smugly? Or enviously?
Do let me know how you get on. Me, I'm off to have a shower. I'm intending to turn the shower on in a particularly timid way.
*NB The Editor can not take responsibility for any domestic grievances which may result from this experiment.