So. Tom Rob Smith, author of a great debut thriller, Child 44. A Soviet detective who tracks down a serial killer in the early 50s. Interesting that he uses his full name and writes about Soviets, just like three-name Martin Cruz Smith (Smith!) of Gorky Park-Arkady Renko fame. But that's a sidebar. I've just read his follow-on thriller, The Secret Speech. Pretty good, though I had some too-much-suspension-of-disbelief problems and gripes over some saccharine sentiments. But I was struck by this sentence:
Taking place in the courtyard of her apartment complex, Fraera intended to host the first victory celebration.
Now, clearly this sentence states that the character Fraera is "taking place in the courtyard," not the celebration. OK, OK, happens to the best of writers. Norman Mailer famously opened Ancient Evenings with a dangling participle, too. But the above sentence is immediately followed by:
Open to all, she provided crates of alcohol...
Now, I suppose you could argue that he's saying Fraera was "open to all," but I think he clearly means the victory party. (Since it takes place during the Hungarian Revolution, the "victory" part turns out to be premature.)
And this guy went to Cambridge! The worst part is, there are many more examples of this kind of sloppiness. And yet he's sold bazillions of copies. You'd think the publishing industry could hire just a few copy editors who know what they're doing, if for no other reason than to prevent the embarrassment of their big players.