I will admit that I have struggled with this review because while I enjoyed The Vaults, it didn’t blow me away and I have spent several weeks trying to put my finger on why. To no avail. Toby Ball is a good writer, with a clear voice and a good attention to to detail but something about the book just didn’t sit well with me.
Perhaps it was the fact that it felt like many of the characters were a little ‘greyscale’. They didn’t come to life for me in a way that made the book feel more vibrant. In fact, the book as a whole had a ‘lazy Sunday afternoon’ feeling that just didn’t sit too well with a mystery, even if it is a dark one. Ball seemed to be aiming for Noir and in many aspects he achieved it perfectly but in others the book sailed passed Noir and carried on going.
Perhaps it’s me, though. This is a novel set in a time when things weren’t so frantic and people couldn’t whip out their iPads or Blackberries and things were done very very differently. Perhaps I’m too much a product of the modern world. That said, I have read and enjoyed many historical novels and, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this one. But it didn’t set me alight.
Lest I be unjust in my review I would like to reiterate that this is a good story with some great writing. It’s just that it won’t be for everyone. If you have more patience than me, it’s probably a good start!