"The brain doesn't remember well. It tells stories. It fills in the gaps, and implants those fantasies as memories. "I have to try to get the facts... ""The brain doesn't remember well. It tells stories. It fills in the gaps, and implants those fantasies as memories. "I have to try to get the facts... "But I don't know if I'm remembering what happened - or what I want to have happened. I am a writer. I'm a professional liar. It's hard to know when to stop, you know? You see a gap in the narrative, you want to fill it with a reason, a motive, a plausible explanation. "And the harder I push, the more the facts dissolve beneath my fingers..." ~Pg. 171, Chapter 21
Author Ruth Ware has crafted a pretty clever plot for her characters to maneuver through in her debut novel. A bachelorette weekend away in the woods, with a collection of the bride's friends who don't know each other well, leads to a murder no one is sure who to pin the blame on. And our main character, Nora, who appears to be the prime suspect, holds all the answers trapped in her head - lost to post-traumatic stress and head trauma. Nora is as baffled as everyone else about the key missing details - but she is determined to remember, even if it puts her health, and life, at greater risk.
Terrific, I felt - let's go on the ride! But my reading experience here was kind of like the anticipation of a massive thrilling roller coaster and the ride actually being something out of a kiddy carnival instead. I found the main character extremely annoying, and the writing to be very juvenile throughout. I know that the characters are all young 20-somethings. But the dialogue just seemed written without a lot of maturity - put another way, the writing quality does not have to mirror the maturity level of your characters.
I was disappointed that a lot of random facts and occurrences throughout the book did not result in any defining purpose. The author even admitted as much at the end when her main character regretted not knowing what one particular group activity had meant to the bottom line. So that was annoying as well.
Characters I couldn't get behind, too many loose ends not tied up, and the fact that I figured out the whodunnit right off the bat left me feeling unimpressed. But as I said, the plot concept was very clever - I just wish it had fleshed out more strongly. Ware does have a great way with cliff hanging and getting the reader to keep ploughing through. It's just too bad that for this reader, it ended in a whimper....more
" 'I don't remember things,' I said. 'I black out and I can't remember where I've been or what I've done. And if...if someone tells me something I've" 'I don't remember things,' I said. 'I black out and I can't remember where I've been or what I've done. And if...if someone tells me something I've done, it doesn't even feel like me. It doesn't feel like it was me who was doing that thing. And it's so hard to feel responsible for something you don't remember. So I never feel bad enough. I feel bad, but the thing that I've done...it's removed from me. It's like it doesn't belong to me.' " ~ Rachel, Tuesday August 6, 2013, Evening - Pg. 189
I sympathize with Rachel. She is a drunk who the reader is meant to realize has self-sabotaged her life. She knows she has troubles with alcohol but she doesn't seem to care and its evolution in her life is in direct parallel with how she has devolved both personally and professionally. But yet, I sympathize with her nonetheless. I have direct experience with people in her shoes. I know it is not a simple matter of choice. It is a terrible, horrible, frustrating thing - this world of addiction. And so, I root for her to find her way through, by having a true crime to focus on instead.
Rachel rides the train each morning into the city, past her former happy home that her ex now inhabits with the new wife and child. This is torturous for her and feeds her need for self-medication. She survives this torment by drowning her sorrows and escaping into the fantasy lives she's imagined of the neighbors down the street from her old home. Her train stops behind their house most every day due to its location at a signal, and she can catch fleeting glimpses of them and their world. She makes up the rest - much like the rest of her dwindling reality.
But this distraction snaps her out of a sad, blurry reverie, and she dives headfirst instead into solving the disappearance of the neighbor lady she's spent so many daydreams on. Rachel is not a detective, or police officer. She's not an attorney. She has zero background or training in these types of things. But a curiosity and a tie to the neighborhood is all she needs to find herself right in the thick of things.
Unfortunately for Rachel, drinking and sleuthing don't go hand in hand, and she becomes both integral and detrimental to the investigation. Eventually she realizes that she may have been a witness, or potentially, a criminal. But of course, she can't remember. Blackouts.
This tale is told from varying viewpoints - including the victim's. I found this a treat and enjoyed the approach thoroughly. But it was Rachel's view that I kept looking forward to. She is the title character for a reason. I found her adventure/misadventures thrilling, sad and frustrating - all the while hopeful for her redemption. I have a soft spot for the underdog. Especially when they are damaged and in need of a win. This story's a winner in my book....more
"They knew I wasn't their guy. They weren't taking care. No care at all. Out there in the lobby I could have decked Baker and taken his revolver. No p"They knew I wasn't their guy. They weren't taking care. No care at all. Out there in the lobby I could have decked Baker and taken his revolver. No problem at all. I could have had his weapon off his belt before he hit the floor. I could have shot my way out of the station house and into a patrol car. They were all parked right out front. Keys in, for sure. I could have got out toward Atlanta before they organized effective opposition. Then I could have disappeared. No problem at all. But I just went into their bathroom." ~ Chapter 4, Pg. 52
Jack Reacher doesn't give a shit. Because he is a fortune teller - five steps ahead of you, and the author of your demise. He doesn't want to be a crusader. He'd rather stay off the grid; riding the bus and exploring the countryside, popping into juke joints, admiring pretty ladies and chatting up the locals to experience their perspective of the good old days. And so there he is, hopping off the main drag to track down the roots of a long-dead bluesman, enjoying a terrific cup of coffee at a diner. When in come the police, guns drawn, to bring him in. For what, he has no idea. But he knows he's the one they're coming after. His powers of deduction tell him so. And therefore he is one calm cucumber under what most would find an extremely stressful and surprising situation.
But Reacher also deduces through patient observation and logic that while they were definitely after him, he is definitely not "their man." He's a decoy arrest, and that's not a position that is intended to end well for him. Decoys get dead. Reacher knows knowledge is power and uses that accordingly.
It also helps that he is a physical beast of a man. He is also ex-military - MP to be specific. He is an expert in detaining the most highly trained fighters in the world; US military personnel gone bad. So the fact that he has been arrested for murder in small town Georgia about an hour after laying eyes on the land is a challenge, not a concern.
Reacher finds himself embroiled in a plot far more reaching than the murder of a John Doe. He goes from suspect to resource, murder suspect to murderer, bystander to avenger. The method to his freedom and the safety of those he chooses to align with is by solving an intricate mystery. While the perpetrators are fueled by greed, Reacher is fueled by loyalty - his distant brother being the unexpected catalyst.
I love Jack Reacher. He's a bad ass. But I don't love him because of his Kill Bill Bride-like abilities to fend off and slaughter prison thugs, executioners, assassins and evil incarnate. No. I love him because of his brain. I love his powers of deduction and reason. He is logical and a grand master of mind games. The fact that he has great taste in music and strong women doesn't hurt his cause in my book either.
I haven't read a better tale in this genre. And no - Jack Reacher did not strong arm me or sleep with me to gain that endorsement. Good on ya Lee Child....more
"Physically, Gina Roake was probably he strongest woman she knew. Three years before, she had shot and killed a man in a gunfight. Now her stare had h"Physically, Gina Roake was probably he strongest woman she knew. Three years before, she had shot and killed a man in a gunfight. Now her stare had hardened. 'I don't need to be protected,' she said. 'You both should know that by now.'
'That's not the kind of protection I'm talking about,' Farrell said. 'I'm just telling you that if this goes to a full murder one trial, it's going to be your life for the next year or more. You're going to start to care about this guy, whether or not he's guilty, and I'm just giving you some friendly advice, based on my own experience, that you might feel better when it's over if you decide right at the beginning that he did it and work on that assumption.'
'I've never defended an innocent client it my life, Wes. I'm down with the drill.'" ~Pg. 129, Chapter 10
Ah, Gina Roake. She certainly does think highly of herself doesn't she? Strongest woman she knows, gun fighter and all. I assumed those oddly placed descriptive moments (of which there are a handful) were there because this was part of a series and they were meant to inform the reader of a back story, who instead picked it up as a standalone. But while I learned that there is a Dismas Hardy series written by author Lescroart, this appears to be a spin-off, focused on Hardy's law partner, Gina instead. So therefore, self-proclaimed awesomeness moments were pretty clunky and missed the mark. Other than that, I enjoyed riding this swift wave of justice at the hands of Gina.
As with any standard mystery/courtroom thriller, there are the crazy coincidences and crossed paths to quickly introduce characters and intertwine their worlds. Outdoors/fishing writer, Stuart, has escaped for the weekend after a bad argument with his wife about the devolving state of their marriage and his realization that his instincts to fight for its success are fruitless. His wife is moving on, without him. He is frustrated, enraged and dejected. Time at their lake cabin should help to clear his mind but all it does is leave him alone with bad thoughts. At the same time, the aforementioned Gina has also escaped to the same lake for the same weekend. She is mourning the loss of her murdered husband, camping and fishing for her own dinner to forge her way through the grief. She and Stuart are like ships passing in the night, though neither realizes they have fished the same lake together that weekend.
When Stuart awakes in the middle of the night from a drunken stupor during which time he has trashed the cabin, he hits the road for home to confront his wife again before she heads out to work in the morning. He arrives home, makes coffee, chills out, and then eventually goes looking for his wife when she doesn't appear downstairs. He finds her body floating in their hot tub on the back deck. His efforts to revive her are pointless - she is stiff and beyond saving. The cause of death is highly suspicious.
Stuart's good buddy happens to be a popular local politician who is supportive and refers him to his friend, Gina, to act as his defense attorney. Gina has never been involved in a murder trial, but she welcomes the challenge to get back to work and resume her legal career versus staying stagnant in mourning her husband's death. And she has her work cut out for her - Stuart is under strong suspicion by the police given the fact that he spoke to them at great length the morning he discovered his wife's body - without counsel - and exposed many self-incriminating details about their relationship, his timeline and potential motives.
The Suspect is an entertaining enough journey as this genre goes and I whipped through it quickly. It was fun, engaging and made me flip flop a few times. I found it refreshing that many of the women were portrayed as "strong" - although these characteristics of "strength" were really more of what dudes think a strong female would be - instead of what really defines us.
I had a good time living in an unrealistic world for a few days. It would make a cool movie; action packed, great scenery from the mountains to the Bay Area, politics, medical research scandal, courtroom drama, sexual tension, mental illness, detective work, the underdog arc, and a smart role for a powerhouse lead actress. I might even read another Gina Roake installment if Lescroart has woven more of her story....more
"Something bad was about to happen. My wife was being clever again." ~pg. 338, Part 2, Boy Meets Girl
It was incredibly hard for me to have had the plo"Something bad was about to happen. My wife was being clever again." ~pg. 338, Part 2, Boy Meets Girl
It was incredibly hard for me to have had the plot secrets that are Gone Girl kept at bay all this time. But somehow I managed to never get an inkling of the plot summary - no insider reaction - nothing. When the film came out, I began to intentionally avoid press coverage since I heard the buzz all about its shocking twists. I despise spoilers. I was extremely diligent in my avoidance. I would like to think that a certain Amy Elliott Dunne would be proud of my commitment all these years.
Amy and Nick. 5 years in. The honeymoon is over. What they had in NYC as young writers in love, has morphed into unemployed caretakers of Nick's elderly parents along the banks of the Mississippi in small town midwest USA. Nick's solution was to use Amy's trust fund to buy a bar with his sister, Margot, aka Go. This leaves Amy at home, alone, without much to do other than stew over her marriage and question why Nick isn't the same person she thought she married.
Anniversary #5 arrives and, after a cursory morning effort at politeness with Amy, Nick heads off to work at the bar. When a neighbor calls to give an FYI that Nick & Amy's front door is wide open with not a soul to be seen, Nick trudges home with annoyance. What he finds is signs of a certain recent violent struggle and the total absence of Amy. She is GONE. Without a trace.
While Nick is puzzled, dumbfounded and a bit shellshocked, he is also being interviewed, analyzed and judged. While he certainly does not wish Amy harm, theirs was not exactly a relationship filled with love. He seems to be more curious than concerned. And this puts a bulls eye square on his back.
The cleverness of this novel is not that it spins an intricate who-dun-it web of clues, but that it lets us in on the BIG secret midway through. We get to go on a ride with the true criminal. We have a front row seat to all the pre-meditation, lies, deceit and ongoing cunning activities the bad guy has up their sleeve. It is absolutely horrifying the extent this person goes to prove their point. And the fact that Nick is being set up in an inescapable way makes the plot even more intense.
I loved it. The whole ride. I will admit, I was totally stamping my foot at the end, insisting that this could NOT be the way things would turn out for Nick - but had it turned out any different, the ending just would not have been TRUE to the characters.
You think your relationship has hit some severe bumps in the road? Read "Gone Girl." You'll feel instantly better about you and your special someone. And if you don't - get GONE. Fast....more
"So he's leaving the house with a fifteen-hour window. It should be plenty of time. To find the girl, incapacitate her, and find out what kind of bitc"So he's leaving the house with a fifteen-hour window. It should be plenty of time. To find the girl, incapacitate her, and find out what kind of bitch he was working with. Spend a good six to eight hours celebrating his return to freedom, reaffirming the type of man that he is. To drink in the cocktail of sex and power and to know that he is, once again, all man. Afterward, if she behaves, he'll swing back by. Turn off the oven altogether. Let the guy sit in there in safety until he is found. And if he dies? Starves to death there on the floor? So be it. Life is never as precious as when it is threatened. We all need a little death in our lives to remind us to keep living." ~ Pg. 263, Chapter 84
"I know that you can't know everything about everyone. You have to think of it as a thrilling, ongoing project. Crossing the threshold of a strange ho"I know that you can't know everything about everyone. You have to think of it as a thrilling, ongoing project. Crossing the threshold of a strange house is like the opening line of a gripping story. At its best, penetrating deeper, it is like falling in love." ~ Pgs. 44-45, Chapter 4
Have you ever been trying to drift off to sleep at night and then heard a creak in your house? You'd like to tell yourself it's the cat, but she's curled up on your feet. It's not your spouse because they're starting to snore next to you. It's not your kid because you can see their sweet image dozing on the video monitor next to the bed. Nope. It must be just the house itself, settling at a random moment. Yes of course. That's it. Orrr...it could be some stranger, camping out in your attic right above your head. Thinking everyone is asleep and they can finally stand up and make a move. I know I know - that's crazy talk. Why on earth would someone break into your home and just sneak up to your attic to hang out? They would just go ahead and rob you, or hurt you. Yes, I actually use robbery and assault as comforting thoughts to laugh away reasons why no one would ever be lurking above when I hear creaks in the night. And then - I read "A Pleasure and a Calling" which has introduced me to my worst nightmare come to life - one Mr. William Heming.
Mr. Heming is a real estate agent who enjoys letting himself into all of his current and former clients' homes, courtesy of the keys they give him in order to sell their home. He makes copies and keeps them as treasured prizes. Apparently no one in his small English village ever thinks to get the locks changed when they move into a new house. He takes small trinkets from their lives as trophies. He snaps photos and videos. He makes notes. He rifles and reads through personal papers and records. He carves his mark in a secret spot. He is a snoop, a creep and a psychopath. He spends the majority of this novel trying to explain to us, the reader, why he is compelled to do such things. Why for him it is an urge, a passion, an obsession, an innate part of his personality. And he likes to withhold the truth - he doles out little bread crumb snippets about his childhood and upbringing. Then drops bombs revealing the full, horrible, details. In a brutally calm, matter-of-fact way. This is his normal - and he knows it's not ours. Is proud of it even.
But even Mr. Heming realizes when he's gotten himself outside of his normal. He is a risk-taker who likes to linger till the last minute - scooting out the back as the homeowner walks through the front. But that doesn't mean he doesn't get worried - that is part of the rush after all. He's so smart and prepared, collecting details about their lives, learning their routines, inserting himself into their lives without them even knowing. So when he gets it wrong (making unfortunate decisions and taking rash action along the way) and what he assumes to be the reality...is totally not, he starts to become the one thing he's always worked so hard to avoid being - noticed.
Mr. Heming made my skin crawl. I'm sure others might find him charming, quirky, wry and sly. He does work hard to give that illusion. Unlike the Talented Mr. Ripley, whom I loved to hate and felt guilty about wanting to root for, I never wanted to root for Mr. Heming. I didn't like him, which means that I wanted things to take a different turn than they did and felt disappointed. And I'm afraid because of that, I might be someone he'd love to see "move along" shall we say. I love my house. I have no interest in moving. And after meeting Mr. Heming, I'm certainly never going to call on him if I ever have to list it. I don't want him sleeping in my attic and becoming an invisible part of my family....more
"I gave the door a shake, and then a good pounding. I cupped my hands to the glass and peered inside, but except for a beam of sunlight falling throug"I gave the door a shake, and then a good pounding. I cupped my hands to the glass and peered inside, but except for a beam of sunlight falling through motes of dust before coming to rest upon shelves of novels there was nothing to be seen.
"'Miss Pickery!' I called, but there was no answer.
"'Oh, scissors!' I said again. I should have to put off my researches until another time. As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week."
"No...eight days a week."~Pgs. 57-58, Chapter 5
While I wholeheartedly agree with young Miss Flavia de Luce, I do not find her entirely believable. This is a mystery novel, with terrific intricacies and obscure bits of knowledge leading to the whodunit revelation. And I am supposed to just go along with the fact that a smart, adventurous resourceful 11 year old has the capacity for all of the knowledge, timing and bravery required to deduce who is guilty and who just seems to be? I just couldn't get there.
I loved her wit and rooted for her throughout. I loved seeing her become the vulnerable little girl she truly was when her father opened up to her and let her in - albeit in a jail setting. When your father is a prime suspect in a stranger's mysterious foul play death outside your doorstep, you take such moments wherever they present themselves I suppose.
Flavia is the youngest of three daughters, whose mother passed away in Flavia's very early years. Their father is not very warm and cuddly and so they spend their time tormenting each other, delving into books, music and - for Falvia particularly - into chemistry. This inner scientist serves her well when she discovers a man dying in their garden, witnessing his final word, and immediately sets about solving who he was, what poison surely killed him, who administered it, and why. Not to mention what on earth brought him to their home to torment her father and turn their boring lives upside down.
I did not find the mysteries within easy to keep track of, or to make heads or tails of myself. There were suspicions of course. I knew that X had some sort of relevance to Y, but I don't find there was any reasonable way for me to have figured it out for myself - even with a degree in chemistry. So this is always frustrating for me in mysteries - I like to have a fighting chance to figure things out, but not too soon in the plot to make the rest of it not worth finishing out. So when an author deliberately makes the mystery unsolvable by leaving out clues altogether, I look for the solution to be so brilliant that it leaves me amazed and awestruck. Believable and impressive. Jealous that I couldn't think of it myself.
This mystery is fun, a bit convoluted, and lives within the specialties of magic, private schools, and chemical lingo - none of which are of great interest to me. What kept me reading was the language of Flavia. The boldness, bravery and brashness she displayed. I think I would like to tag along on one of her marathon bike rides on rusty Gladys. I know that I would like to have her in my corner.
This is the first in a series of Flavia de Luce mystery novels. She is a memorable character, but I doubt I'll be reading any others. I hope she doesn't slip some poison into my drink to teach me a lesson....more
I liked the characters (specifically female professor Sweeney St. George with a penchant for gravestone imagery and mourning art). I liked the conceptI 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....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“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!...more
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 theI 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....more
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 comingHoly 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....more
"I've always said that the ending of a novel should feel inevitable. You, the reader, shouldn't be able to see what's coming, but you should put the b"I've always said that the ending of a novel should feel inevitable. You, the reader, shouldn't be able to see what's coming, but you should put the book down feeling satisfied that there's no other way it could have gone." ~ Pg. 177, Chapter 9
If author Carolyn Parkhurst was aiming for her character, Octavia Frost's, opinion above to be my experience with The Nobodies Album, she feel short of that mark with me. However, I found plenty enough to enjoy despite my lackluster feelings about the whodunnit plot.
For me, this was less a book about whether or not a famous rock star murdered his girlfriend, and more interestingly about an estranged mother and son finding their way back to each other through unexpected, tragic circumstances, much like what they lived through at a much earlier point in time that served to shake the base of their love to begin with.
Popular rock star, Milo Frost, awakes one morning on his couch, covered in blood, with police hauling him off to jail. His girlfriend is dead upstairs, with her head bashed in. A public lovers' spat over dinner the night before is not helping his claim of innocence. He's not even entirely sure he IS innocent. He'd had a lot to drink and went through a roller coaster of emotions the prior evening. He is scared and overwhelmed with sadness. He can't help but feel regret as well - either for what he may have actually done, or for the fact that someone else committed a crime he was not able to prevent.
Octavia Frost is a well-respected, successful writer of fiction; famous in her own right. She and her son, Milo, have not been on speaking terms for quite some time. He blames her for many of the emotions he's tried to process following a family tragedy as a child. He feels she has rubbed salt in the wound through the words of her published work, and cannot forgive her for it. She did not intend these things to happen or to effect him the way that they have, but has accepted the role of jilted mother, following her son's life through the tabloids and fan sites instead.
Octavia has come up with the revolutionary idea to re-write just the endings of all of her books and publish them in one compilation. She has just dropped off her completed manuscript with her agent when she sees the news scroll about the murder of her son's girlfriend and his immediate arrest. Motherly instinct overrides her fears of rejection and she flies out to support him.
Between the chapters about Octavia and Milo's lives, there are excerpts of Octavia's various stories and their revised endings. It was a creative way to deliver insight into the mystery of their family's past, while they try to navigate the mystery of a present-day murder. Regarding that murder mystery, there are lots of far-fetched plot advancements and reactions that seem unlikely, but if you strip all of that away, and just focus on the rebirth so to speak of this mother and son, it is something you can begin to identify with. I found it to be touching, and eloquently described. And so I forgave the mystery side of things.
The one element of the mystery that I found interesting was the emotional quandary of how to love a child who takes the life of another. How to love yourself when faced with the reality that you raised a murderer. But of course, Milo may not have done it. And so we are moved away from those matters and on to more curious matters, such as who else might have done it, and why.
The ending fell flat for me because, after stringing out this mystery for hundreds of pages, it was solved, resolved and future (somewhat sappy) vignettes doled out in a mere six final pages. That sealed the deal for me. It reiterated that the parts I had chosen to focus on were really the same ones the author liked best too. In fact, I would probably enjoy reading a re-write of this ending.