Review: Toby Ball – The Vaults

The VaultsThe Vaults by Toby Ball
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Strange the ideas that cross one’s mind upon embarking on a work not having read any cover blurb. It’s something I’d like to try more often. Not knowing whether something is a thriller, or a love story, or a work of science fiction, how would we approach our reading differently?

In the case of The Vault I, for one, was ready by the end of the first chapter for some strange Gormenghastian world of endless vaults of information on a citizenry only one man was capable of interpreting but these vaults, instead, turned out to be the criminal records’ section of some city hall in some place in the USA in the years between the wars.

My initial misunderstanding was compounded in the following chapters as they hopped around, one apiece from character to character, in setting the stage for what was to follow. I confess to some frustration by the end of that, even considering ditching the book and moving on. On balance, though, I’m pleased I persevered. The work turned out to be reasonable enough, and certainly didn’t warrant a wall-chuck, particularly given that, these days, to do that would break some expensive bit of electronica.

Essentially, what we have here is a corrupt Mayor who made his way to the top with muscle, surrounded by people with muscle, and these are the bad guys. Needless to say the system is corrupt, and trying to expose it we have a journalist, our aforementioned curator of the vaults, and various other characters on the trail of convicted felons who somehow escaped imprisonment. The chapters are very short, and it’s easy to skip from one to the next which I often did somewhat beyond my allotted reading time, so it had me going at times for sure in my wanting to know what happened next.

In the end, a three-star review is rather cheap on my part to be sure, but it doesn’t merit a four. Your good guys are your good guys, not perfect by any means but sympathetic. The bad guys seem largely reliant upon violence with any intelligence they may have secondary to that, and that’s about it. There are plot holes and the occasional convenient unlikelihood, but these don’t detract too badly. Still, they could do with being filled in and covered over.

If the plot sounds like your thing, go for it. I doubt you’ll be amazed, but I equally doubt you’ll be disappointed. It does its job well enough if that’s the job you want doing.

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