Reviewed by Şirin Tugbay
David Swatling’s first novel Calvin’s Head sounded interesting enough in the blurbs I quickly skimmed before adding it to my list of potential books to review for this round: the book revolves around the main character, Dekker, whose thesis on Van Gogh brought him to Amsterdam, and his dog Calvin. So when I put this book on my list, I thought why not keep an open mind about thrillers, this seems interesting enough. Should try everything once, right?
To be honest, Calvin’s Head and I didn’t have any chemistry. From the first page I did not feel that the writing pulled me in enough: while having some original ideas in terms of using different character perspectives, it felt like the book was trying to bring too many things together; the special relationship between a dog and its owner, Amsterdam’s gay scene in the 90s/00s, homelessness, a psychotic murderer, and mediocre attempts on erotic fiction writing. If this strikes your fancy, I think you might enjoy Calvin’s Head. To me, it felt like these things did not necessarily tie together naturally, making the experience of reading the book not as enjoyable. But then again maybe I am not the thriller-type.
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Şirin can also be found on Twitter: @sirintugbay.
David Swatling is an ABC You Reviewer, too. He’s not reviewed a lot recently because, well, he was writing a book! He’s currently working on the second book in the Dekker trilogy.