The title, The End of the Wasp Season, is perplexing, slightly lyrical and doesn't really give you any idea of what to expect. The opening chapters maintain this vaguely mysterious ambiance, meandering aimlessly from character to character without any obvious links between them or any idea of who is important and who isn't. As we progress, the tone is clearly set though and all becomes clear - two boys commit a horrifically brutal murder, on a woman who may be a case of mistaken identity but who seems to know one of them from somewhere.
The novel starts weaving its intricate web from there, intertwining extremely diverse people's destinies. Despite the geographical distance and the social chasm of the class system separating them, the murder investigation reveals multiple connections linking the characters and plays on social snobbery and prejudice to bring in a few red herrings. Between the cleaning lady with several kids from different dads and not a penny to spare and the ultra-rich but parentally inept social high-fliers, it's interesting to see who has the most dysfunctional family life.
The plot is interesting and cleverly thought out but there seemed too many loose ends and superfluous elements which detracted from the central story. A lot is made of policewoman Alex Morrow being pregnant with twins, for example, but this turns out to be totally unimportant. Other aspects seemed under-developed, such as Alex's low-life family who are mentioned only briefly, but this is the second (and probably not the last) book in the Alex Morrow series so I'm sure this has been or will be developed in one of the other books.
It's an enjoyable read but not wholly satisfying because it seemed a bit muddled at times, with elements leading nowhere that detracted from the central action.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £12.99 (but £7.43 on amazon)
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Orion (12 May 2011)
Other reviews you may be interested in :