An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Vermeer Consipracy

The Vermeer Conspiracy - Eytan Halaban

I literally only finished this book because it's short and I wanted to know what happened at the end.

 

There are many typos and grammar errors in the book which made it difficult to read.

 

On top of that the protagonist is a totally flat character (written as a Latina woman but with ZERO believability). I mean, technically I could count this as a diverse read but I'm not going to because it was THAT BAD.

 

There is so little conflict and surprisingly little mystery (I mean, the cover blurb spoils a lot of the story and then as a reader you're waiting 100+ pages for the characters to catch up to you).

 

Spoilers under the cut.

My main issue with the book is Sabrina's relationship to her ethnicity. It doesn't read as genuine. She refers to herself as Latina throughout the book, but I can't remember one time when she describes anyone as white. It just paints her as the Other and that's not how people tend to think of themselves.

 

There are some scenes where her ethnicity might make sense to mention (I can think of ONE in the story), because other people recognize race/ethnicity and then it becomes a thing. Like, facing microaggressions makes me very aware that people see me as Asian first and foremost, but that's not how I think of myself. Halaban tried but here he failed.

 

There's also a weird scene where Sabrina claims to be a lesbian so she won't have to sleep with a guy. The guy physically recoils from her but then Sabrina says that didn't do anything to offend. I'm pretty sure breaking off touch with someone like gayness can be contagious is offensive, homophobic behavior. Come on.

 

There are brief snippets of academic writing that are written very poorly (dangling modifiers mostly).

 

Sabrina comes off as a flat character, but then so does everyone she meets in the book. Characters' motivations aren't clear. The mystery takes a while to get going. The story is so convoluted.

 

Sabrina lies to everyone about a trip she's taking, but she tells everyone different lies even though she doesn't want to arouse the suspicions of the police and she's not going to leave a paper trail except she uses her credit card everywhere and leaves her most valuable piece in the mystery - Danielle's laptop - unsupervised for a whole day. And that's just a small piece of the puzzle.

 

They find Hanna's studio and then just hang out in it all afternoon with Verhaast (a man Sabrina thought was capable of murder earlier in the story... I think... it's not super clear). Then the studio is burned at the end and everyone's OK with it. This was maybe part of Sabrina's super plan (which mainly consists of sitting around crying about fake emails but somehow everything works out OK).

 

The mystery and the resolution, the characters and their relationships, nothing makes much sense at the end of the book. Really what's here is an interesting idea that really needed a better author in charge of it. Halaban doesn't seem to have a talent for suspense or plotting. What he should write is historical fiction because the little glimpses into Vermeer's life and Isidor's past were by far the best, most readable parts of the book.