Book review: Rain by Stephen Gallagher

by Stephen Gallagher
Hodder & Stoughton 1991 (PB, HB published 1990)

Rain is a neat little British thriller about a Manchester girl, Lucy, whose sister was killed apparently by a hit-and-run truck driver, more than a year ago. Since then, Lucy has spent her time hanging around service stations on the motorways, hitching lifts with truckers and hanging out in the all-night cafes in a determined yet kind of crazily random attempt to find out what really happened, as she’s convinced that Catherine’s death was no accident.

Joe Lucas is a policeman who has agreed to a request from the girls’ father to find Lucy and persuade her to come home. Her father misses her and thinks she’s throwing her life away in her obsessive quest. (She has no job and has to live with her father or sleep rough.) Joe and Lucy meet each other for the first time in the opening part of the novel, at yet another service station. He persuades her to go home, via an odd meal in a Chinese restaurant, but Lucy is convinced she finally has a real lead. She goes to the shed in the garden where Catherine’s possessions are kept and finds some more clues. Don’t ask me why Lucy did not search these items a year ago.

Lucy’s search takes her to London, and this is where the book jumps the shark for me. Joe follows her, and the two become involved in a surreal chase that causes Lucy to land up in hospital. A porter helps her to escape from Joe and her father, whereupon Lucy follows up her leads – finding out where Catherine was living and working using VAT numbers on receipts found in Catherine’s possessions. How credible this is I have no idea. Eventually, Lucy finds out the details of Catherine’s life, and resolves the murder mystery — which is a crashing disappointment of obviousness, rendering a lot of the previous events of the novel incomprehensible. At nearly 250 pages, I felt the whole experience was a bit of a waste of time, which is a pity as the initial premise, and character of Lucy, seemed quite interesting.

I borrowed this book while on holiday as it had been donated by a previous visitor to the “library” of the place where I stayed.

Stephen Gallagher’s website. He is the author of various science fiction, horror, crime and fantasy novels, and a scriptwriter and director (see Wikipedia). There is an interview with him at The Zone. I can’t find any available reviews of Rain on the Internet (though from the quotations on the author’s website there were some published reviews at time of publication 20 years ago), but there is a round-up of some of Gallagher’s books, in which Rain is mentioned, at The Independent.

8 thoughts on “Book review: Rain by Stephen Gallagher

  1. Maxine – Thanks for this candid and thoughtful review. I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed in, especially, the ending. When I read your first paragraph, I was interested in the premise myself, and it is always a pity, isn’t it, when a book just simply doesn’t live up to its promise. I may wait on this one…

    • Indeed, Margot. I think you would be disappointed, ultimately, in this. It has “made for TV” stamped all over it 😉 (I was unaware of the author’s career in this department until I got home and had access to the Internet again.)

  2. I have a question on reading preferences: Do you read books by Ann Pachett? I just began her latest one, State of Wonder, which looks like there is a mystery, even horror-element; the latter is not my thing. But the writing is good and the reader is pulled in right away.

    • No, I’ve never read Ann Pachett and though I have seen her name around I don’t know anything about her books. Look forward to hearing what you make of it – but if it is horror I doubt I’ll read it.

  3. Pingback: Rain by Stephen Gallagher | Petrona Book Reviews archive

  4. Pingback: September reading and reviews | Petrona

  5. Pingback: New (to me) authors read in 2011 | Petrona

Comments are closed.