Book Review: The Serpent of the Plain of Panope by W.T. Keeton

The Serpent of the Plain of Panope by W.T. Keeton is the third book in the Lincoln Confidential series and it starts off with a bang. Well actually, it starts off with a kitchen and a sniper and a likeable female lead. Emma Sandsmark has moved to Kansas after the events of the previous book, running away from Cadmus Lincoln and their romance. But after Emma’s friend is shot, Emma and Cadmus find themselves back in each other’s life with a new bad guy to find.

The plot is interesting enough, if slightly repetitive; bad guys gets found, bad guy gets away, bad guy gets found, bad guy gets – well, you get the point. Saying that though, it did still keep me interested and there wasn’t a moment where things became too slow. It’s a fast moving novel with little time to catch a breath, and while it did seem like the characters found it a little too easy to involve themselves with the police investigation, this wasn’t a big enough problem to make the story unenjoyable.

A highlight of the book is the character of Edie, introduced within the first 50 pages. She’s a taxi driver who talks a little too much and asks too many questions, and her quick dialogue and brazen flirting with Cadmus brings with it an interesting dynamic and some light entertainment. I enjoyed the scenes she was in, and the book could actually have done with more of her – she seems to drop off the map as everything comes to a close, which is a shame.

For me, the disappointment with this book came in the dialogue. While I enjoyed Edie’s wit, I felt most of the characters had very stilted conversations that never felt quite right. It never felt like I was reading an actual conversation between two people. When characters were introduced they seemed to give away their whole life story without any prompting – it’s a bit too obvious a way to make your reader get to know your character. It was sometimes difficult to believe. Another problem in the dialogue came with the different ages. Everything the character of Morgan said felt slightly too adult, and not like it was coming from the brain of a ten-year-old. With a smoother, more subtle attempt at dialogue this book could really find itself.

With regards to the two ‘Bad Guys’, there were elements that I really liked. Naddred’s obsession with Shakespeare (specifically Hamlet) I found to be a creative addition and gave his character another dimension. There’s not so much to say on the other ‘Bad Guy’, Zebidiah, but I do think the author wanted me to pity him more than I did.

Overall, this book is a fast-paced crime thriller, and the last few pages are unexpected, if slightly random. However, it could do with an editor to fine tune it, and improvement on the dialogue. I found myself becoming tired with the poor conversations by the end. Your enjoyment of this book will depend on what you are looking for from it. If you want weight and realism to your characters and dialogue then look elsewhere.

The Serpent at the Plain of Panope

by W.T. Keeton

Insurance investigator Cadmus Lincoln gets a desperate call from Wichita, Kansas. Nearly two years after she disappeared from his life, it’s Emma Sandsmark, and she’s terrified. A sniper is on the loose, terrorising Emma and her close friends, the Fitzsimon family. Rushing to her aid, Cadmus deals with again seeing the love of his life even as the two of them must work together to uncover dark secrets hidden by the Fitzsimon family and by the sniper himself, a cold-blooded IRA assassin seeking a very personal kind of vengeance!

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