Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When I first read about the Burley Cross Postbox Theft, it sounded like a book for me.  A postbox is vandalized and the letters found discarded in a yard in a sleepy English village.  The police must investigate to figure out what happened and who is responsible.  Because quite a large number of letters have been left behind, the police must attempt to determine what is missing and why.  For some reason, the police investigators decide that they must read all of the recovered letters.

Unfortunately, the entire book consists of letters, both from the police and the residents.  This wouldn't be a problem, except that there are SO MANY of them, and most of the writers have an annoying tendency to ramble, put in lots of unnecessary asides (one even has footnotes) and otherwise lead the reader far, far from the story.  There are so many letters that it's basically impossible to keep all the people in the story straight, without some sort of diagram or chart of the village and who lives where.

Once the mystery of the burgled postbox is finally revealed, of course it transpires that the vast majority of letters had nothing to do with the theft, but rather, I suppose, were an effort to demonstrate the intense rivalries, jealousies and gossip that takes place in a small town.  I would have liked more story and fewer characters to keep track of.  Some of the letters were amusing, but still, there were simply too many of them!  The events in the story take place around Christmas time in 2006, but even so, I would think that people had somewhat slowed down in the posting of letters by that time.

Final Verdict for Burley Cross Postbox Theft:    Two Gherkins, for being a mildly amusing but wildly confusing account of a small-time crime in an awfully wordy village


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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