Where Honesty Never Ends.
Genre: Historical mystery/thriller
Note: The Review Board received a copy of this text in exchange for an unbiased review.
Greetings! The Review Board here to share its thoughts on Clonmac’s Bridge by Jeffrey Perren. Before we get started, let’s check out the blurb, courtesy of Amazon:
A maritime archaeologist raises a medieval monastery span from the mud of the River Shannon, sunken for 1,200 years… and finds it perfectly preserved. What could account for this astounding longevity? Why are his colleagues and the Church so desperate to prevent him learning the secret? And why is his consummate lover his greatest enemy? Griffin Clonmac will go through hell to find out. He won’t go alone. Inspired by a real discovery, Clonmac’s Bridge shifts between contemporary times and 9th century Ireland. It tells the story of two men who struggle against envy and mediocrity — a millennium apart — aided only by a loyal helpmate and an unconquerable will. An archaeological thriller, a love story, and a pensée on society then and now, Jeffrey Perren fans are sure to find this latest novel his best yet.
Now to share her thoughts, Wordsmith Andi.
The Wordsmith Weighs In
True to its blurb, Clonmac’s Bridge is an interesting fusion of genres. Revolving around the discovery of a twelve hundred year old bridge near Clonmacnoise Monastery, the story takes us along for the ride as Griffin Clonmac, an archeologist who has spent fifteen years searching for the elusive bridge, finally finds it and subsequently encounters a gamut of natural and man-made hurdles.
More than a story about a bridge (in truth the bridge serves more as a background device around which a variety of relationships develop) Clonmac’s Bridge gives us an exploration in human motivation. Love, academic achievement, personal victory, jealousy, spite, greed … Perren covers the spectrum with uncanny ease, showing deep insight into the human psyche.
I enjoyed this book to an extent. The subject matter fascinated; I spent the entire book wondering just what was so important about this bridge aside from having been built using building techniques not widely developed for another three hundred years. To that length eventually I started to grow bored with waiting, with all the highs and lows of near success and imminent failure. How many times can you knock a man down before he stops trying to get up? More importantly – why do you keep knocking him down, over and over and over again? After a point the story just started to drag, feeling more like an exhibition in persistence and exploring just how many ways Perren could twist his characters up before finally releasing the tension.
Adding to this was Perren’s writing style. While relatable in that each character’s motivations were rooted in the truth of psyche, Perren spent more time dropping us into each character’s laborious thought processes than any “on the edge of your seat, addictive-page-turning-action”. Readers expecting a Brown-esque thriller will be disappointed. I was disappointed that the bridge itself wasn’t more important than it actually was although the unexpected exposure and solving of a mystery provided a satisfactory ending.
The Wordsmith’s (and overall TRB Verdict)
Overall I gave Clonmac’s Bridge eight out of ten stars. While enjoyable on a couple levels this story left me wanting more and not necessarily of Perren’s particular brand of historical mystery/thriller.
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