A solid four stars right up until the last 20 pages. There's another "and Jessica stared down at what they'd found, convinced it led them to the killeA solid four stars right up until the last 20 pages. There's another "and Jessica stared down at what they'd found, convinced it led them to the killer" but with more of a clue than last time, so that's something. But overall it does a nice job both as a standalone and as forward motion for the series, actually explaining Jessica and Adam's relationship....more
Whaaaat hot mess is this? The previous book in the series was delightful, the book afterwards is delightful, and this is not. A very large part of thaWhaaaat hot mess is this? The previous book in the series was delightful, the book afterwards is delightful, and this is not. A very large part of that comes in the author's choice to play silly buggers with the reader, telling them that Jessica has discovered vital clues, but not revealing what those clues are. "With that, Jessica told him what she thought she knew, and all the pieces began to fall into place."
AUTHORS DO NOT DO THIS.
The other problem is Jessica's theoretical awakening to her own failings as a detective, which should have worked, but when paired with her realization of loving Adam just made my teeth itch. Also they are the least plausible couple ever. At some point we can talk about how any given detective does not require a damn love interest if you have to get out the shoehorn and the cooking oil, but today is not that day....more
Lily believed that the world was a magical place. She believed that if you watched carefully enough, you could find miracles anywhere. The town's base
Lily believed that the world was a magical place. She believed that if you watched carefully enough, you could find miracles anywhere. The town's baseball team had a secret handshake that went back to the time of the settlers. A professor down the street had a skeleton hanging in his vestibule. Behind the dry cleaner, some ladies held newt races. There were interesting things like this everywhere, waiting to be noticed.
It's basically Eerie, Indiana: The Book and it is GLORIOUS....more
This was the one I stopped at when I originally read this series, and I very much remember why: it combines three elements of previous and later instaThis was the one I stopped at when I originally read this series, and I very much remember why: it combines three elements of previous and later installations, namely someone politically trying to frame Scarpetta plus (view spoiler)[terrorism and someone threatening Lucy because lesbians (hide spoiler)] and makes a hash out of all three. Wingo is a welcome and poignant reappearance, as are the events of the very last chapter, which hint that Scarpetta may be able to finally move forward with her life and quit being so self-centered and snappish with everyone.
In related news, (view spoiler)[did anyone wind up giving a fuck about the 9 random torsos in Ireland and Virginia? Because the end of the book kind of points to "Nope!" (hide spoiler)].
I'm giving this series one more book to get its act together.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
An entirely satisfying and sweet mystery set on the Red Cliff Reservation in Wisconsin, which is a real place and also where the author lives, so thosAn entirely satisfying and sweet mystery set on the Red Cliff Reservation in Wisconsin, which is a real place and also where the author lives, so those must've been some fun conversations. There are roughly a billion different characters, which gives the reservation a lot of depth and nuance, and also a 3rd person omniscient narrator who sometimes breaks the 4th wall to provide context to a lot of the Chippewa/Indian facets in a tongue-in-cheek way.
The real fun comes from the tension between Police Chief David Lameraux and Tracker, his ex-fiancée, and also the tension between Lameraux and Michael, a Norwegian police deputy who is totally out of his depths on the reservation:
"This is as fast as it gets, chum." David flicked ash from his cigarette without bothering to aim for the overflowing pop-out ashtray. Then in a completely deadpan voice he cracked wise. "But hey, if it helps ease your burning impatience, what don'cha just try pretending you're in an Indian funeral procession with only one set of jumper cables."
Michael knew there was supposed to be a joke in there somewhere. "I don't get it," he finally said.
David laughed. "No, don't expect you do." He glanced at Michael and then back at the road ahead. "You kinda have to be a ragged-ass blanket Indian to get that one."
Oh, David and Michael.
I totally get that the sexual tension in the book is supposed to be between David and Tracker in a kind of will-they-won't-they way, but I shipped David/Michael so hard I was shopping online for sails and rigging:
"Hey," Michael said, as soon as they were inside David's house, "this is a pretty decent place."
David didn't miss the note of surprise in the deputy's tone. Tossing the truck keys on the hallway table, he grunted, "My bedroom's upstairs." Michael was still looking the place over when he followed David.
[brief pause in which our heroes argue about David's messy housekeeping and David strips half-naked for PLOT REASONS, then:]
Michael's gaze was locked on David's bare, very impressive chest. He didn't have much experience with Indians, but a little voice inside his head warned him that getting into an argument about good housekeeping with this particular Indian didn't seem wise. "I was only offering a suggestion."
David was still riled. "You can shove any and all future suggestions. Got it?"
"Good. Now hurry up."
A few pages later David calls Michael an anal guy and I'm out. Just bend him over the hood of one of the many, many pickup trucks in this book please, David.
Anyway, meanwhile back in the rest of the book, David's deputy has decided to marry Tracker and spends his investigating time grabbing her, telling her he loves her and smoldering about it when other dudes go near her. This all would be super obnoxious apart from the fact that Tracker does what any sensible woman would do when romantically pursued by two men: she gets a dog and a cabin in the woods with a pottery workshop, ignoring one dude and kicking the other in the shins. NEW FAVORITE HEROINE ALERT*.
There's a whole mystery here, in fact a couple of them, but they're largely besides the point and wind up getting solved without being too much in the way of the fun character interactions, the snarky writing and the depiction of reservation life.
Perilously close to five stars.
*Seriously, this should be the message we all get from those YA books with the ridiculous love triangles: get a dog and a house with a door that locks, learn a trade and wait them out. Dudes are like buses; miss one, and another will be along in a minute, but every dog one in a million, and absolutely worth it....more
75% 4-star, 25% 2-star. Unbelievable ending is unbelievable, not just sort of (view spoiler)[ZOMG nuclear terrorists! (hide spoiler)] but more specifi75% 4-star, 25% 2-star. Unbelievable ending is unbelievable, not just sort of (view spoiler)[ZOMG nuclear terrorists! (hide spoiler)] but more specifically (view spoiler)[that when the nuclear terrorists need a doctor, the FBI totally allows the chief medical examiner for the state of Virginia to sashay on up to the hostage zone, and not, say, a medicine-trained HRT agent or really ANYONE ELSE AT ALL. (hide spoiler)].
A very enjoyable Scarpetta when it's not trying to engage in FBI and international politics -- the first third of the book, in particular, really gels in terms of Scarpetta and Lucy trying to sort their relationship out -- but hoo boy, American authors, please get someone British to proofread your British dialect.["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book wasn't fancy terrible, just plain ol' terrible. I stepped away from the book for a few days to gain a little perspective, because some of myThis book wasn't fancy terrible, just plain ol' terrible. I stepped away from the book for a few days to gain a little perspective, because some of my quibbles were it are, I think, personal to me, but the vast majority are objectively critical issues. So, from the top:
Things That Were Not Good In This Book:
--Tally McGinnis, the protagonist was uninteresting, unpleasant and dumb as a bag of rocks. She's hired to investigate a murder and automatically assumes it's someone she had antagonism with in the last book, Marsha Cox. From then on, every third thought is that Marsha Cox is guilty and evil, and possibly behind that tree over there. To be fair, sometimes she is behind a tree, but mainly not.
--The other protagonist, Cid, is just uninteresting, although marginally smarter than the first one, which is the only reason I can see that their detective agency is still open. She too, believes Marsha Cox is guilty, evil and behind that tree over there. Spoiler: Marsha Cox is never behind Cid's trees. Overall though, the book then reads like:
--There were POV bobbles for the gods, including Tally's inability to refrain from commenting on her strawberry hair or her strawberry bangs, or her straight and beautiful teeth, or gazing at someone with a "pleasant, expectant expression." Which she can apparently see because she's in front of an invisible mirror or out of her head, one or the other.
--I don't know what city the author was trying to write about, but it wasn't San Francisco. To wit:
1. Ostensibly, this is San Francisco General, on a Monday night two nights after July 4th:
The emergency room was relatively quiet as Tally silently strolled through the glass door entrance. She observed a doctor in surgical greens standing off to one side quietly speaking with an older man and woman. Then the elevator across the hall opened and a janitor exited, noisily pushing a yellow plastic bucket and mop down the hall. So much for peace and quiet, Tally thought.
First of all, if I'm looking for peace and quiet, the emergency room of SF's largest hospital is not on the top 100 places I'd look. Second of all, there is no way -- NO. WAY. -- SF General's ER is deserted the Monday after July 4th. None. I have been to SF General in the middle of a weekday and it was packed with people. I have been to SF General in the evening of a weekday and it was packed with people. I may have had to give the book a little experimental toss in the air at this point because WHAT DRUGS, AUTHOR.
2. "Tally eased the BMW smoothly out of the garage and into traffic, and hands placed high on the wheel, sped down Montgomery and then over to Market Street. Commuter traffic had cleared out early. Mondays were like that..." There's only one way you can speed down Montgomery Street at 6:05pm on a Monday (as the chapter heading helpfully lets us know), and that's if you've been personally fired out of a cannon.
3. "The county jail was a straight shot up Portrero and a few blocks down Bryant. As they drove, Katie rang up Rita Cruz and passed the cellular phone to Tally. Tally didn't mince words. 'I need your help. I'm en route to the Hall of Justice now." The county jail's over on 7th, because it's not actually at the Hall of Justice. They're two separate places.
4. "The time and temperature sign on the front of the Bank of America building read a suffocating ninety-eight degrees."
The average daily temperature for SF in July is 68F. 98 degrees is a record-breaking temperature for SF -- anywhere in SF, let alone on the eastern side of the city that, for huge weather-nerd reasons, gets the hot air sucked out of it and spat into the ocean, so at that point in the story, 98 degrees in SF would be a fucking miracle and all any of the characters would talk about for the next three chapters. If it's 98, you could be serial-killing people in the middle of Pier 39 with a live internet feed and the next day the papers would still all be about the record-breaking temperature.
There's also a scene that takes place in a thunderstorm in SF which... is statistically real unlikely but technically possible. And then there's:
"Although it was still warm outside, the fog made the air damp."
Look, I know we're veering towards pedantic here, but if you're going to take liberties with a city's geography and climate, say that up front or better yet, make up your own city.
--The third member of the detective agency, Katie, is an Irish national from Dublin who's been in the country for 8 years. So of course she sounds like a leprechaun on Prozac. Of course she does. She says things like:
"Da used to say, 'It's better to live in the forest with a carpet of leaves for a bed and wee critters for companions, than to choose a cold castle build on a hill of silence and loneliness.' We must come to some sort of understanding, or the grand love we share will surely be lost."
Tender Jesus in a flaky crust. WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE. She quotes her Da every third utterance and, I don't know, I guess they could've been close, except then she says: "Top of the morning and good luck."
AUTHORS, DON'T DO THIS. If you want to include a character who speaks in dialect, have someone who is a native speaker of that dialect proof-read your work. Realize that the United Kingdom has multiple languages and more dialects than you can shake a Curly-Wurly at, and in basically none of them do people sound like they're magically delirious.
All in all, my whelm could not have been more greatly undered....more
1.5 stars: So many characters with similar names and so much about them that the protagonist gets lost in the shuffle for large portions of the book,1.5 stars: So many characters with similar names and so much about them that the protagonist gets lost in the shuffle for large portions of the book, which turns out, when she reappears, to be something of a blessing. Plus the crime is just... uninteresting. Lots of place-based details, though. Not a series for me....more
There's an early section of the book where it looks like everything's going to descend into romantic farce ("McNab!" "Rhona!" "Magnus?" "Rhona!") whicThere's an early section of the book where it looks like everything's going to descend into romantic farce ("McNab!" "Rhona!" "Magnus?" "Rhona!") which is unfortunate because ew, and also because both McNab and Magnus are total dickwaffles. They're entirely different kinds of dickwaffles, it's true: McNab is a selfish, self-destructive man-boy and Magnus is so inoffensive that he is, in the words of the great Bonnie Morse, simply proof that Rhona's senses still function.
But it's almost like the author recognizes both these things and, once the triangle's been established as still firmly in place, reminds everyone that there's a creepy-ass serial killer out serial-killing and maybe that should take some precedence.
The thing I found most interesting about this book is that McNab, as a character, has been completely destroyed. Not in his own estimation, clearly, but in the reader's, and let's fucking hope Rhona's as well. He's shown as a wreck of a person and a police officer with so little chance of redemption that actually I was amazed (view spoiler)[he got to keep his job. COME THE FUCK. (hide spoiler)]
Anyway. It's a bold move for a series author, to have taken one of the main characters and built him up as an anti-hero, and then just absolutely destroyed him for any further use. I found that fascinating.
Because hopefully now Rhona doesn't have to deal with either of them. Come on, make it interesting. If we have to spend time on Rhona's love life give her someone she doesn't work with, finds irresistible and who can't stand her. Because the actual criminal cases and forensics were so much more interesting when they took center stage in the novels.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm a huge proponent of graphic novels that help to explain history or socioeconomic ideas, because not matter how you get intrigued by a subject, youI'm a huge proponent of graphic novels that help to explain history or socioeconomic ideas, because not matter how you get intrigued by a subject, you can always read more, delve deeper or just ask better questions, and I know a lot of people are attracted to the graphic novel format, especially middle- and high-school students.
This is a great introduction to Amercia's addiction to incarceration, especially incarceration based on racism and classism. Super heavy subject, great for a graphic novel. Side effects may include discovering that Reagan, Ashcroft, Tip O'Neill and other powerful politicians were even bigger shitbags than you'd originally believed.
There are a couple places where I raised my eyebrows:
--"Prison reformers hoped to follow the example of mental health 'deinstitutionalization' (except deinstitutionalization hasn't gone so well, say the legions of people without access to mental health care)
--"San Diego and Boston got [positive] results with 'community policing'" (I would like to hear from Black and other people of color, Bob)
--"By pitting 'victims rights' against 'prisoners rights' we are denying the need to heal for all"(That...is one hell of an oversimplification there. I had to sit down for a moment with that one)
And the last ten pages of the book, where it finally turns its hand to suggestions for amelioration just become a morass of facts and figures that get a little overwhelming. But even so, these are all great places to start asking questions.
Lots of questions. Pointy ones, with spikes, because we have a big-ass election coming up. ...more
The first half's a four-star, the second, two. The heroine is flawed and deeply in denial but definitely interesting, and her best friend, Lola, is aThe first half's a four-star, the second, two. The heroine is flawed and deeply in denial but definitely interesting, and her best friend, Lola, is a wonderful foil. Two out of the three Bechdel Test qualifications met.
But, that said, the second half of the book is a hot mess. First of all, there's all the hints. "Oh!" everyone cries, "that totally sounds like THE VILLAIN. That is something someone like THE VILLAIN would do."
"No no, don't mind us. I mean, it does totally sound like something THE VILLAIN would do, but it couldn't possibly be THE VILLAIN, could it?"
Alice: "Right? Well, I'm off for my run."
The identity of the villain is, post-discovery, never really explained. And that epilogue made about the least sense of anything. Like: did it and the first half of the book wander in from somewhere else? This makes no sense.
That said, I enjoyed reading this book far more than I should've -- great descriptions of London, fast, dynamic pacing, delightful writing.
I'll give the second book in the series a shot. ...more