I liked the characters (specifically female professor Sweeney St. George with a penchant for gravestone imagery and mourning art). I liked the concept...moreI liked the characters (specifically female professor Sweeney St. George with a penchant for gravestone imagery and mourning art). I liked the concept (investigate the unknown sculptor of a unique gravestone and become enmeshed in suspected murders, old and new, within an art colony). I liked the beach-readability (easy to read in spurts). I didn't like the impossibility of the reader being able to come to the correct conclusion about who dunnit. And that pulled my rating down to what is truly 2.5 stars here.
I like mysteries. But I don't read many of them for this very reason. Authors spend so much time trying to deflect our attentions and not enough time weaving in necessary clues for any possibility of self-solution.
Personally, I like questioning the facts all the way through to the end, and then putting it all together about a page or two before the big reveal. Keeps me reading, flip-flpping between scenarios, interested enough to make it a page-turner, and gives me the rewarding "I knew it" fist-pump moment that leaves me satisfied with the time involved.
Because I spend more than just reading time on a mystery. There's the extension of that fading time before sleep, where I go through the plot and clues and facts the characters share. Coming up with options and turning them over in my sleepy mind after placing my bookmark between the pages. There's the drive time that's spent punching holes in my previous theories as I wait at traffic lights. And the focus time that goes out the window when I wander away from the task at hand wondering why a certain character reacted a certain way in subtle asides thrown in to either intentionally enlighten or confuse me.
Shame on me, I suppose, for expecting every mystery read to result in a fulfillment of time devoted. It takes a skilled writer to weave a sneaky but plausible plot. It may be entirely more difficult to know your ending and then craft a tale that entertains but completely masks all trace of the actual result, but it isn't appreciated by me. I don't mind being completely duped, if the result is utterly mind-blowing and the signs were buried but not completely missing. The result here went for mind-blowing but forgot to give the reader any actual shot at discovery before or after the fact. There isn't any way you could come to the same conclusion that the author did, given the information that was shared. And it pissed me off. (However, I personally feel that due to the visual nature of a very key piece of information, this story could have a much better result on film vs text).
My complaints aside, there is a strong (occasionally cliched) main character with lots of promise and room for growth. I understand she appears in additional works (this being the first) and can only hope that readers of them are given a chance to feel a greater connection with her sleuthing mind, so they can enjoy the thrill of crime solving with her instead of in spite of things. I myself have devoted enough time to a challenge I had no shot in solving.(less)
“People in town declare this and that about the murders. Everybody is a suspect, and nobody at all. They lock their doors and whisper their suspicions...more“People in town declare this and that about the murders. Everybody is a suspect, and nobody at all. They lock their doors and whisper their suspicions over the phone. I lock my doors too, when Mike is at work. He doesn’t get off until 11:00 p.m. – long after dark, even in the summer.
“My mom thinks the killer is somebody in the next town or beyond. Some psycho who creeps in, murders our women, then steals away. Couldn’t be one of us, she says. Not in Amaryllis. I used to think that too. I wanted to believe it.
“Now I know she’s wrong. He lives right here among us, all right. But if I tell, I’m dead.
“The killer is my husband.”- Page 19
When I received an e-mail from the PR firm promoting the launch of this book’s publication, I was instantly intrigued by the plot description. Maybe it’s because I am a sucker for the show, Criminal Minds, about profiling murderers. Or that my family hails from the South. Or that I love books such as The Help which tell their tale through the voices of a variety of narrators. Whatever the draw, I quickly raised my hand for a copy of Gone To Ground.
Over the past three years, six women in a sleepy Mississippi town have been stabbed in the neck and dumped in their closets by the murderer on the loose nicknamed the Closet Killer. The first five victims were all older women – widows and retirees. The most recent one, although also widowed, was only in her twenties. With this change in the killer’s demographic, the town is even more on edge. Any woman could be next.
And any person could be the killer. Three women have evidence that points the finger directly at someone they know. Someone they don’t want to be guilty. But these three women each think they are the only one with incriminating evidence. And they each have incriminating evidence against three separate people. Will any of them have the heart or nerve to turn over their evidence? Will their lives be in danger if they do? Which of them is involved with the real serial killer? Or is there more than one killer at work?
I don’t read a lot of mysteries because I am often let down. I despise a plot that I can figure out early on. I want to figure it out the page before the big reveal. I like to go on that ride, flip flopping between suspects and pondering why specific details are given to us. Because a writer worth their salt never provides a detail without there being a reason for the reader to know about it. Ms. Collins is a writer worth her salt. She has written a clever and engaging plot that kept me guessing right up to the end. She also put me on the edge of my seat, getting that heart rate up – which is good considering I have been skimping out on my daily exercise. Do you think if I just read lots of mysteries and thrillers I’d never have to do cardio again?
Our narrators are three women of varying ages and with different sensibilities. Carrie Mae is a widowed housekeeper approaching retirement. Deena is a middle-aged divorcee running her own business. Tully is a pregnant newlywed just out of high school. They all know each other, but not well or socially – until folks start getting arrested. This is when they form an unlikely bond and begin to work together. We get the pieces of the Closet Killer story through each of them in alternating chapters told in the first person. The chapters are interspersed with sections of the local newspaper’s feature article on the killings to fill in more details and provide a different perspective on the town, the killings and their impact on everyone.
About those articles – I must say that they were a bit confusing to me at first. I didn’t understand if they were part of the story or some type of excerpt from a real article that the book used for inspiration. The articles are always prefaced by a real website address, the same date and headline. It took me a while to understand that they were continued pieces of one long feature article rather than the same article being re-written over and over. And that this was indeed part of the story and not a true excerpt.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the dialect written out. Not because I didn’t understand the words but because I felt like it was for effect rather than effective. Perhaps because every single word’s pronunciation for certain characters was written this way rather than just picking a few to highlight and get the point across? I don’t know. I felt like I got the point and didn’t need to be hit over the head with it. I’ve read plenty of Faulkner in my day and he writes dialect all the time. For some reason that never bothers me. Here, it did.
Aside from those two issues, I loved this book. I had a hard time putting it down and not thinking through all the details until I could get back to the story again. It was a quick and easy read, but one that got the wheels turning, heart racing and even had me turning back to certain chapters to re-visit certain clues. I highly recommend!(less)
I have been looking for a good mystery/thriller for quite a while. I seem to have encountered nothing but duds. Maybe I've just become too good at the...moreI have been looking for a good mystery/thriller for quite a while. I seem to have encountered nothing but duds. Maybe I've just become too good at the predictability of the plots - they usually bore me these days. So when my trusted book blogger buddy, Sandy, provided an exciting review of this book and sent her copy to me - how could I not give it a go?
Set in the 1935 Florida, we are introduced to wanderer but hard worker and skilled laborer, Arlen. He is on a train headed for Palm Beach, Florida to help in the building of a new bridge. Then without warning, all of his fellow traveling co-workers on the train appear to him as skeletons. This little vision is not new to Arlen. It means these men are approaching their death. It is up to him to decide whether being laughed at and ignored is worth the risk in trying to save their lives by sharing this premonition with them. Most ignore him. One does not. But when Arlen and his one believer leave the train bound for death, it does not mean their new journey is going to lead to a happy, safe place either.
And so we leave the paranormal visions for a while and instead get embroiled in a plot filled with some shady local men of power in a back woods coastal town dealing in illegal matters and causing all kinds of hurt along the way. Have Arlen and his buddy jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? Will they survive the snake pit the land smack in the middle of? Which of them will end up with the pretty lady acting as their disgruntled host at the Cypress House? And is she worth it?
I really enjoyed this ride. There weren't a lot of big mysteries to solve - just lots of questions about folks to ponder while patiently waiting for the reveal - a piece or two at a time. It was a well written story, that incorporated the landscape and weather of Florida like an active character. I love it when settings come alive.
It was a bit too fantastical to believe that some of the characters had all the luck and skills that they possessed. I like things a bit more realistic. But when your main character sees talking skeletons I suppose his other talents pale in comparison. The ending did have a bit of a bow on it, but I admired the author's bravery in allowing unhappy endings for some.
Overall, an addictive read that kept me engaged. Nothing spectacular but certainly better than yet another police/detective/lawyer crime thriller. I would give it 3.5 stars if possible. And I'll probably look into some of his other books in the future.(less)
Holy crap. I just had my mind blown. Part of me appreciates the author's ability to pull this off. Part of me is irritated that I didn't see it coming...moreHoly crap. I just had my mind blown. Part of me appreciates the author's ability to pull this off. Part of me is irritated that I didn't see it coming. But then again I hate it when I figure it out rather than getting duped. Spoils all the fun. So good on ya Dennis Lehane.
I actually had a hard time getting into this book early on. The dialogue between main characters Teddy Daniels and his U.S. Marshall partner, Chuck Aule, was a bit awkward and sometimes pretty cheesy. These two guys have never met and have been assigned to each other to investigate and find a missing patient from a criminal asylum on a remote island off of Boston's harbor in the mid-50's. I wanted to get to the hunt rather than listen to their feeling each other out banter.
Ah - but to enjoy the hunt you do need to know who you are dealing with. So the banter eventually gives way to important details about their characters and as their bond grew I became more vested in their cause.
This place - Shutter Island - had that creepy tone you will find when reading about Manderley in the novel, Rebecca. Something is just off - wicked and up to no good. There is a raging hurricane going on to add to the danger. And everywhere you turn, there are bizarre circumstances, dangerous and unstable patients, codes, clues and trouble underfoot.
This is part mystery, part paranoia and part thriller. I really loved it and flew through the last half. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen to Teddy and his quest. He could hardly wait either. While I enjoyed being duped, I'm not so sure he did.(less)
This is really more of a 2.5 star read for me. But not having that visual option, I selected only 2. The resounding success of this and the fanatical...moreThis is really more of a 2.5 star read for me. But not having that visual option, I selected only 2. The resounding success of this and the fanatical absorption of it and the sequels created a higher water mark in my mind and the book just didn't reach it. So no 3 rating. But it had enough action to keep the pages turning, so no 2 rating either.
This is a long and at times complex tale of two major plots - an unsolved family murder and high finance scheming and revenge. It takes place in Sweden so perhaps some of the details were lost to me in the translation. I basically just found the entire book too far-fetched to take it seriously.
There's this financial journalist who gets burned when his financial expose on a big fish in the industry lands him a libel charge and a short stint in jail. This is mostly what the book starts off with - and the going was dry dry dry. Probably one of the least enticing openings to a book I have ever read. So I'm not sure what kept all those people reading and loving but I decided to keep going to find out what all the fuss was about.
While needing to step away from his troubled magazine due to the court case, the journalist is hired by another old school heavy financial industry hitter to research a long ago disappearance of a beloved grand-niece. And to sweeten the pot, the uncle claims to have knowledge about that jerk of a guy who got the journalist thrown into jail in the libel suit.
Eventually, this girl with the dragon tattoo shows up and is like an uber-spy Wonder Woman. She can get any info. anyone needs and knows how to take care of herself. And the one time that she misjudges her situation, she gets revenge in a MAJOR way. She needless to say becomes an invaluable assistant to the journalist.
The characters - and there were tons of them - were pretty uninteresting and not very likable. Maybe that is because the author was trying to paint them all as suspects? Who knows. Even the good guys were pretty annoying.
The level of craziness just kept building and building - to the point of ridiculousness. I just never bought into it. I tried. But the characters didn't make me want to. So I didn't. I'm skipping the sequels. And still searching for a good thriller.(less)
Eh. That's pretty much how I feel about this book. From the opening pages the author's writing style just didn't grab me and that was a problem since...moreEh. That's pretty much how I feel about this book. From the opening pages the author's writing style just didn't grab me and that was a problem since the book went on and on and on like that.
The narrator, Rob (aka Adam) Ryan, is a detective in Ireland working on a murder case that just so happens to have taken place in his childhood home town. The story follows his life during this particular case and flashes back to his childhood when he and his 2 best friends went missing in the woods, with him being found alone, in shock, standing in bloody shoes but unharmed. He has no memory of what happened and the current case stirs up a desire to try to remember that early part of his life.
A large part of the book delves into his strong bond with his partner, Cassie Maddox. This is where it began to get annoying for me. Over and over and over the narrator drones on and on about how tremendous their friendship is and how much like siblings they are. They are so cool - their relationship is the envy of everyone around them - blah blah blah. I also couldn't stop remembering that Rob was a guy written by a woman - he always seemed more like what a woman would picture a guy to be - never truly his own voice.
Then there is a big transition/turning point in the story - which takes about 3/4 of the way through to get there. The narrator's behavior after this made no sense to me - especially after all else that was hammered into my brain leading up to it. So unfortunately, just as the story was starting to pick up some much needed speed, the characters stopped being believable.
Although I did not figure out the ending in advance, I was not really that surprised or shocked by it. Enough foreshadowing had occurred to present it as an option - just the details of exactly how were what needed to be revealed. Going through all of that for a fizzle at the end sealed the 2 star rating from me.(less)