Cate Fante’s career is on the rise. As Dirty Blonde opens, Cate has just been appointed a federal judge. She has a great career, the great house, all...moreCate Fante’s career is on the rise. As Dirty Blonde opens, Cate has just been appointed a federal judge. She has a great career, the great house, all the trappings of success. But Cate also has a little secret—she likes to stop in seedy bars, pick up random men and find the nearest hotel for a little bit of adult fun.
Six months later, Cate is the federal judge on an intellectual property right’s case about the hit drama Attorneys@Law. The defendent, Richard Martz is suing big Hollywood producer Art Simone for allegedly stealing the idea, character and concepts for the show. Cate reluctantly has to dismiss the case, but not before giving Simone her two cents on who he is and what he did. Martz doesn’t take the news well and before you know it, Simone is dead, Martz is the prime suspect and it looks like Cate could be next on the list for revenge.
That is only the beginning of Cate’s string of bad luck. Her proclivities come to light, her life is in danger, her best-friend is in danger and her love life is crashing down around her. Add in findng out a secret about her father from the past and you’ve got a lot happening to Cate in the course of just a couple of days.
While Lisa Scottoline is able to keep the pages breathlessly turning with one twist or big development after the next, this is a novel that is long on plot, short on character. Instead of really getting at why Cate picks up men for random sex but rejects a suitor who pampers her and declares his love for her, Dirty Blonde instead goes for more action and more twist and turns along the way. Sure, the pages turn, but at the end of the novel, I was left wanting more character exploration of Cate and what made her tick.
This problem extends to every other character in the book as well. Character traits and developments come fast and furious, serving little more purpose than to be yet another red herring or blind alley for the story to follow. That is, until we reach the inevitable unmasking of the person behind all of this—a twist that is trying so hard to be a twist, that it’s not convincingly set up. There is no foundation laid for it early in the story and it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you give it any kind of scrutiny.(less)
Keith Donohue’s debut novel The Stolen Child has generated a lot of praise and interest in the publishing community. After hearing the near unanimous...moreKeith Donohue’s debut novel The Stolen Child has generated a lot of praise and interest in the publishing community. After hearing the near unanimous praise for the novel, I was intrigued enough to pick it up and give it a try myself.
And was pleasantly surprised by the story.
The Stolen Child is a fairy tale for adults about two boys, both kidnapped by hobgoblins. The hobgoblins will target and kidnap a child, taking him or her into their community (think the Lost Boys from Peter Pan) who live in the woods, never again but awaiting their chance to be re-introduced to our world. When Henry Day is taken, another hobgoblin morphs himself to look like Henry and takes his place. The story then unfolds from the first-person perspective of both Henry Days as they struggle to find their way back into their respective societies and families.
As their stories unfold, the lives of the two Henry Days slowly begin to intersect.
One of the fascinating things about the novel is the back and forth structure of the narrative. Each chapter is told by one of the two Henry Days, relating the events of his life to that point. Even without the visual clue of the hobgoblin taken Henry’s chapters having an image of the forest before each chapter begins, Donahue distinguishes each character by his voice.
The novel is a good one, along the lines of the Time Traveller’s Wife where a sci-fi or fantasy element is used more as a spring-board for the greater human-element to the story than actually exploring the fantasy implications. Donahue’s story is one that will hit home and tug on the heart strings at times, all while having you on the edge of your seat at others. It’s an entertaining, worthwhile, complex and fascinating fantasy story that I highly recommend.(less)
14 Degrees Below Zero isn’t so much about solving how a crime was committed, but so much as why it was committed. The novel opens with the crime in pr...more14 Degrees Below Zero isn’t so much about solving how a crime was committed, but so much as why it was committed. The novel opens with the crime in progress, then retreats several days to follow the events that led up to it.
The story is one of a triangle between Jay, her father, Lewis and her boyfriend, Stephen. Jay struggles as a young single mother, forced to give up on college when she got pregnant and trying to find her place in the world. Her struggle is paralleled by Lewis, her father, going through a mid-life crisis after having lost his wife earlier that year to cancer. Stephen is the college-professor boyfriends who loves Jay and yearns to give her a better life for herself and her daughter. Part of that is breaking free of the manipulative grip of Lewis.
The story is a fascinating character study of each of the players in this drama. Each of them is motivated out of a love that may or may not blind them to the realities of the situation. Lewis doesn’t see his constant involvement in and belittling of Jay’s life and choices as bad. He is motivated out of wanting her to have a better life.
A series of events and confrontations leads to a violent act, an attempted murder and events spiralling out of control. Skinner teases us with the violent act early and then spends three quarters of the novel setting it up and the last quarter watching the fall-out. It’s a fascinating, complex and character driven novel that will keep the pages turning and linger with you long after the final page is turned.(less)
Seeing the title of this story, you might be lead to believe this is a racy romance novel. It’s not.
Instead, the title refers to one hot summer in the...moreSeeing the title of this story, you might be lead to believe this is a racy romance novel. It’s not.
Instead, the title refers to one hot summer in the life of Berry Jackson in Pinetta, Florida. Berry is entering her teens and the summers is unusually hot—both weatherwise and in the small town. The town is rocked by the scandal of a minister admitting an affair with a married woman, a hurricane and then her father (the school principle) apparently running off with an 18-year old girl who is being abused by her family.
While the first-person persepctive of Berry is well done and brings about comparisons to Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, this story is no where near as rich or complex. I figured out the central twist of the novel very early on and while I was interested in the struggles of Berry’s family dynamic and her relationship with those around her, it wasn’t enough to sustain the interest for a long period of time. The clues to piece together what’s really going on behind the gossip in the small town are a bit too easy and too obvious and the overall book suffers as a result.(less)