This is How it Ends is described where, “There’s plenty of intrigue, sex, and drugs in this fast-paced mystery, set against a backdrop of gentrifying London.”
What should have tipped me off, sounded the alarms and sent me running was the word I bolded in the description above. Now, this is completely my personal preference, as I know it doesn’t bother others the way it does me – but I do not like reading books where pages and pages are devoted to the description of sex and sex acts. I’m definitely more of an enjoyer of the nuance. I know it’s a normal part of life, but inserted into a novel with these overly-described details is something I cannot tolerate. I cringe, I sigh in annoyance, I heavily roll my eyes. I find it wholly disrupts the flow of the story, and in this book, unsettles the flow of suspense. I really hate wading through tawdry details like the “holding his cock”, “waiting for him to come” or “we f**ked on dirty sheets” abound. These details do absolutely nothing to titillate or excite me. They only annoy me. This was the same reason why I could not enjoy John Boyne’s latest, The Heart’s Invisible Furies. I’m not looking to read erotica, or any attempt at erotica in any form. Ever.
So, like The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I skipped over a large chunk of This is How it Ends. And then, that last 1/4 improved enough for me to raise my rating. I was enjoying how it was building towards its ending at this point, and the ending is quite good, it does have a bit of a different ending waiting for you. The narrative does contain the usual unreliable characters and the having to figure out who’s lying to whom, etc that are featured in these (becoming tired?) tales. But that last 1/4 or possibly the last 1/3 made this a more satisfying story for me over where my initial feelings were headed.
This is How it Ends moves back and forth between “Now” and “Then” and between Ella and Molly. “Now” is following a protest party and “Then” are the events leading up to the night of the party and the identity and reason for this body to wind up at the bottom of an elevator shaft. The story opens where Ella is standing over a dead man’s body. She calls in Molly, her trusted friend, her trusted social justice ally, to help her deal with it. Does Molly believe Ella’s claim it was an accident? That it was self-defence? Whether she does or not, she still helps Ella dump the body down the elevator shaft instead of calling the police. This is where the narrative starts to spin in place, the needle gets stuck and the over-wrought hand-wringing of “When will the police find out? If “this” or “that” happens, it will all come to an end”, “this can’t happen, because then this will all be over with”, etc. But, if you hang tight, and lift that needle over those stuck parts, it does come to a satisfying conclusion. Like it did improve enough for me in this section to change my opinion to a more favourable one.
Our in-person book club chose This is How it Ends for our January meeting. I’ll be interested in hearing what the group thought of this one. I need a book though that will knock my socks off. I haven’t been finding those as often in my past couple of reads.
This is How it Ends is out in March 2018, and is a standalone novel for Eva Dolan. Her previous novels have been for a DI Zigic and DS Ferreira detective series. Many thanks to Raincoast Books for sending the advanced reading copy! This book is the first to be knocked off my Winter 2018 Most Anticipated!