Pretentious and muddled prose mixed with an outdated and outlandish take on the crime. (view spoiler)[There was an unseen, unknown intruder there to mPretentious and muddled prose mixed with an outdated and outlandish take on the crime. (view spoiler)[There was an unseen, unknown intruder there to murder Mr. and Mrs. Borden, but before he could, Lizzie BEAT HIM TO IT. (hide spoiler)] This is especially annoying as it's a fascinating case, about which an excellent, psychologically penetrating novel could absolutely be written. This is very much not it.
I'm so torn about this. I love Lockhart's prose. I love her snappy dialogue and the way she folds social commentary into her narratives. But this bookI'm so torn about this. I love Lockhart's prose. I love her snappy dialogue and the way she folds social commentary into her narratives. But this book isn't just inspired by The Talented Mr. Ripley (or, as Lockhart says in her author's note, "I cannot possibly name all my influences but particular debt goes to Patricia Highsmith for The Talented Mr. Ripley"): it's pretty much a modern day, genderfucked TTMR AU fanfic. Like, a lot -- a lot -- of characters and plot points match up: not just Tom and Dickie, but Dickie's parents, Dickie's unwilling to be spurned ex-lover, Dickie's overly suspicious other friend, Tom's potential love interest who he has to lose to win the game. There's even a canoe paddle.
So this was fun, but it hewed incredibly close to Highsmith without, I felt, giving me quite enough of a twist or a "take" to justify the similarities. And I'm all for lady versions of previously male narratives, but I think they should be a little more upfront that that's what they are....more
So boring. A book constructed almost entirely out of red herrings -- everything that looks like it might be used as a potentially interesting plot thrSo boring. A book constructed almost entirely out of red herrings -- everything that looks like it might be used as a potentially interesting plot thread fizzles out to nothing by the end. And then, the actual ending... You know the scene at the conclusion of Psycho in which Norman Bates' character and motivation is explained to the audience in case any of them are particularly slow? Or the scene at the end of the film version of L.A. Confidential where the entire plot is re-articulated, as the viewers are once again presumed to be unusually thick? Well, that's this book's entire, lengthy epilogue, which destroys any lingering ambiguity and basically confirms everything a reasonably astute reader could have assumed from chapter one. Snore.
One point of interest: I am vaguely curious if the author considers Billie to be a sympathetic character. Because she kind of reads to me like (view spoiler)[Amy Dunne if, instead of being a brilliant manipulative psychopath, she were just really, really selfish (hide spoiler)]. An interpretation which, seeing as it's almost completely unexplored, isn't actually all that interesting either. Ah well....more
Ludicrously, ridiculously over the top. And yet, compared to the other, very dull domestic thriller ("thriller") I read recently...yeah, I preferred tLudicrously, ridiculously over the top. And yet, compared to the other, very dull domestic thriller ("thriller") I read recently...yeah, I preferred this OTT nonsense. It does not hold up to Fridge Logic at all, and the descriptions of torture were extra shocking in this context and made me deeply uncomfortable. But at least it was fast-paced?
Also, oddly, there was occasionally a beautiful, lyrical passage or piece of character insight that seemed like it belonged to another, better (or at least much more to my taste) book. At one point the narrator shares a memory of his mother taking him to the supermarket as a boy and it was by far my favorite paragraph in this 400-page behemoth. Like a little glimpse of another novel-that-wasn't, but that I would much prefer to read. It makes me kind of curious about Richmond's other books -- but I would need assurances that they are very different from this one....more
Everyone seems to love this book, and I really don't get it.
Well, that's not precisely true: I do see the appeal -- this is a domestic thriller that iEveryone seems to love this book, and I really don't get it.
Well, that's not precisely true: I do see the appeal -- this is a domestic thriller that is well-crafted in its way. It's topical. It's slick.
But it didn't work for me. I found the writing very flat and cold -- there's almost no emotion between these pages. That may have been a stylistic choice on Abbott's part, to show how broken and empty her characters are, but it was also very boring. Obvious/annoying comparison: Gillian Flynn's books, at their best, have a heat and a rage to them that's fascinating to me -- and, at least before she kicked off the current thriller trend, that felt so fresh. Emotionally dead people being emotionally dead, though -- that's been done and done and done.
Nothing about this book was surprising. You know going in exactly who the culprit is, and the why is about as expected as it can be. I also could have really done without various characters being used as mouthpieces for Profound Truths about Parenting and Being a Teenage Girl Today. See, this is another place where feelings might have been more effective than essentially capslocked MESSAGES.
Abbott is clearly skillful but judging on this book, hers are not skills in which I am particularly interested. I probably still ought to give this two stars rather than one, but I am feeling cranky and contrary. ...more
I'm pleased that there's apparently some momentum in Agatha and James', and Agatha and Charles', relationships now. I'm looking forward to (view spoiler)[Agatha and James' romance hopefully going down in complete flames (hide spoiler)] in the next book....more
Everyone seems to love this one and I'm bummed that I didn't. But I really, really didn't.
From the beginning, I had a hard time handling the fact thatEveryone seems to love this one and I'm bummed that I didn't. But I really, really didn't.
From the beginning, I had a hard time handling the fact that all of D's dialogue -- and thoughts! -- were in ridiculous tough-guy dialect. D's the assassin character -- so badass he no longer even has a name! -- but his dialogue reads like Third Mook From the Left's in some terrible mafia movie. Yet I squinted whenever he was speaking and moved on.
The other protagonist is an oral surgeon named Jack Francisco. Jack Francisco is a ridiculous thing to name your protagonist, even in the world of silly romance novel names. Jack Francisco should be a cowboy or rodeo clown, not an oral surgeon. But this is nit-picky so again I handwaved it and proceeded.
I was not rewarded. Jack and D's eventual hookup is abrupt and unsexy. I never felt the heat between them; I actually remember thinking, "I'm glad she's taking this slow" right before the first sex scene, because I was anticipating a ton more build up, as there had been next to nothing to signify mutual attraction at that point. But no. Sex happens about 1/4th of the way through, and then it's just dumb fights and idiotic self-endangering behavior for the rest of the book.
And the book is so long. For a story with dozens of hired killers running around, there is a shocking lack of tension. Maybe every assassin in this book is as droopy and inactive as D? Look, if I'm reading a romance novel about a hit man, it's because I want some sort of illicit thrill from a man who's highly competent and extremely deadly. I don't want some gravel-mouthed mope who's about as sexy and dynamic as the vampire Angel in guilt-ridden rat-eating mode. Let's just say this: Seville did manage to convince me that Jack could perform successful facial reconstructive surgery; I was not at all convinced that D had managed to kill undetected the 47 or whatever people he was always angsting about, unless they'd been on a bus that he accidentally drove over a cliff while blowing his nose.
So this is an excellent book if you want to hear about the exploits of a competent oral surgeon. Ladies.
Speaking of spicy stuff: oh, the sex scenes in this book! The numerous dull, interchangeable sex scenes. Seville's descriptions are either anatomical or filled with flowery metaphor: at one point D caresses Jack with "long, smooth strokes like raking a zen garden"; at another point, "Jack was just starting to spiral upward when D suddenly pulled out and seized Jack's waist, flipping him over as easily as one might a pancake on a slick skillet." Okay, so now I'm puzzling through mental images of zen gardens and pancake flipping. Hawt.
Basically, I think where I and this book part ways is that the book takes itself way too seriously. This is a ROMANCE about an ASSASSIN falling in love with his TARGET. That's a pretty cracky concept. Maybe...have fun with it? This does not need to be -- and probably shouldn't be -- a work of high literature. It should be sexy and fun. But in my opinion, Seville's 0/2 here.
One final example of my issues with this book: like I said, it goes on forever; it has more epilogues than The Return of the King. When you finally reach the last one, and you're expecting something like a depiction of D and Jack's happy life together, instead Seville gives you a graphic description of child murder. One that has nothing to do with the main plot, by the way. I guess it's just in there to remind you that life is terrible.
Anyway, that's what you get for a sexy feelgood ending. All in all, I think I'd rather read the adventures of Jack Francisco: Cowboy Dentist....more
I agree with the general consensus that Lansdale seemed fairly tired of Hap, Leonard, and their shenanigans when he wrote the previous book in this seI agree with the general consensus that Lansdale seemed fairly tired of Hap, Leonard, and their shenanigans when he wrote the previous book in this series, Captains Outrageous, but fortunately he took a nice long break before apparently deciding he missed these crazy bastards. Lansdale, Hap, and Leonard are all back on top form here -- in fact, this book has some of the best action sequences of the series so far. There's also some nice Hap angst as he deals with another descent into dime-store moral philosophy. And since Lansdale is back on form, these parts are beautifully written, and the contrast between Hap's self-reflection and the gators, guns, and general mayhem of the rest of the book is again delightful, and one of the things that keep me coming back to this series.
Though the main thing is really just how evident it is, on every page, that Hap and Leonard and Brett all love each other. That's surprisingly rare: a series where the characters all like each other so much.
That said -- I would absolutely read a spin-off devoted to infamous assassin Vanilla Ride....more
Excellent shenanigans in this one, and I liked Agatha regaining some power in her relationship with James. But of course, the solution to the mysteryExcellent shenanigans in this one, and I liked Agatha regaining some power in her relationship with James. But of course, the solution to the mystery was, as usual, stuff and nonsense. And I hated the last line: (view spoiler)["God, I hate women!" from Roy's lips. I think Roy is supposed to be a lovable scamp. I mostly find him to be a lovable scamp, in the same heightened way in which all of these characters are heightened. But like...this isn't amusing, even in a throwaway way? (hide spoiler)] I honestly think that, had this happened in the middle of the book, I would have been able to shrug and move on, but what a sour taste to end on.
Sometimes this series is very '90s, and this is one of those times....more
This cozy mystery series continues to be fun and weirdly addictive. The bonus short story included in this volume was also a quirky delight, but I wasThis cozy mystery series continues to be fun and weirdly addictive. The bonus short story included in this volume was also a quirky delight, but I was very annoyed that it appears to take place much later in the series and spoils upcoming events. I would like to sic Agatha on the publishers for a proper scolding....more
Now this is a modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation that I can get behind! This book is not only adorable and diverse, it's packed with lots of good stuffNow this is a modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation that I can get behind! This book is not only adorable and diverse, it's packed with lots of good stuff about adjusting to change and making new friends in a way that's subtle and amusing. I'm going to feel really good selling this to kids....more
Frank Marr is a drug addict, a former cop, a drug addict, a PI working some missing persons cases, and a drug addict. Did you getMainpain smorgasbord.
Frank Marr is a drug addict, a former cop, a drug addict, a PI working some missing persons cases, and a drug addict. Did you get that he's a DRUG ADDICT? I've heard that addiction can wipe out all other aspects of someone's personality, and I guess that's what happened with Frank, because DRUG ADDICT is basically all you get.
I'm all for books starring complex, morally ambiguous antiheroes, but Frank is boring. There is no nuance to his characterization or this story. The novel's opening chapters are all about Frank trying to score and accidentally finding a girl who's been kidnapped and raped, and how the whole thing's just so inconvenient for him. Frank's not self-aware or human enough to really realize how fucked up this is; he never even seems all that guilty, just annoyed.
I almost gave this book two stars because the prose is competent and Frank's voice is consistent(ly unpleasant), but then I realized: as a character, he starts the novel in exactly the same place he finishes it. 354 pages with this guy and he has no arc whatsoever. What was the point?
The most complex message I can scrape together is that it's sure a drag when those teenage girls get kidnapped and raped when you're trying to get your coke fix....more