I expected some crazy whoop-de-doo thrill ride and basically got a moderately interesting plot by an author with a facility for language. Some of his...moreI expected some crazy whoop-de-doo thrill ride and basically got a moderately interesting plot by an author with a facility for language. Some of his sentences are to die for - gorgeous, laugh out loud hilarious, so bizarre - but that isn't enough to hang an entire book on. I like the premise, but somehow it just never gelled for me. I'll try another of Ellis' books because I'm curious about him, but Crooked Little Vein was a disappointment.(less)
Finally! This is the first novel I’ve read in six months that wasn’t absolute poppycock from the first page to the last. It isn’t flawless, but it’s a...moreFinally! This is the first novel I’ve read in six months that wasn’t absolute poppycock from the first page to the last. It isn’t flawless, but it’s a quick, enjoyable read.
Innocence is the story of Scott Finn, a Boston attorney who reluctantly agrees to defend a man who has been in prison for fifteen years, and claims new DNA evidence will exonerate him. His client, Vincent Salazar, was an illegal alien from El Salvador, a doctor who treated anyone who came to him, including members of the deadly VDS gang. When he first came to Boston, he was convicted of a bloody crime: attempting to murder Madeline Steele, a police officer. Now he claims he is innocent.
There are many logic problems with this book. This is one of them: why wait fifteen years? The answer is alluded to at the end of the book, but it isn’t very gratifying. Anyway, Finn is approached by Salazar’s attorney of record and asked to assist. Finn agrees. Then the first lawyer is murdered, and the case is all Finn’s. Finn comes to believe in Salazar’s innocence, and goes to the judge and asks for DNA testing. The judge tells him that he can do the testing but even if it is not a match, that isn’t enough to release him from prison. Again, a serious flaw, but okay, whatever. The judge says Finn has two weeks to convince him to give Salazar a new trial.
Finn doesn’t actually find out anything in the two weeks – instead, what we get is a long history lesson of the VDS. Also, Kozlawski, a private detective slash former cop who works with Finn, falls in love with Finn’s unpaid legal intern. That was actually the best part of the book. Koz is fifty. Lissa is thirty. Koz is a strong, silent type. Every word out of Lissa’s mouth is a swear. Yet… it’s actually affecting how good they are for each other. You can see it. It pops off the page in a way that nothing else in the book does.
Earlier this week, I considered the problem of men writing sex. This is not awful, but there are a few interesting things about the way Hosp writes sex. To whit:
His evening with Lissa had been a different experience entirely. They hadn’t slept. Ever. They had crawled over each other nonstop throughout the evening, doing things to each other he’d only read about. While they were together, it hadn’t occurred to him to worry about his performance — about whether or not she was being satisfied. He’d been too busy trying to catch up.
Not that it had seemed difficult. He’d simply done what seemed natural, following his body’s impulses and reacting instinctively to her movements, matching the rhythm of her body and the intensity of the expressions of ecstasy on her face. If those expressions were any indication, then he’d performed acceptably for her. And yet there was no way he could be sure. He’d heard about women faking pleasure to make their partners feel better about themselves. Lissa’s reactions had seemed genuine, but how could he know?
The first thing that jumped out at me was that most of this written in the negative. The second thing is that we have a big logic problem here. In the first paragraph, it had not occurred to him whether or not to worry about pleasing her. The second paragraph, all he’s doing is worrying about pleasing her.
I’ve never read any sex in which the guy is worried about his performance. Since this is written by a man, I have to wonder if there is actually some anxiety intrinsic to men in this regard. Setting all that aside, the next sex scene was actually pretty nice.
Besides sex, there is a lot of violence. Particularly with machetes. I’m fine with that but there are some scenes that were so gruesome I had to wonder if he was actually enjoying writing about those parts a little too much.
My impression of this book is that there were a lot of elements and the writer smashed them together, and hoped to form a coherent narrative. There’s DNA evidence, a vast conspiracy at the Boston Police Department, VDS, even some al Qaeda. None of it fits together perfectly. Despite the long histories of VDS, its role in the crime was actually just a shadow – the police framed Salazar and made it look like VDS. Okay, whatever.
Most improbably, the DNA evidence matched Salazar but was really his brother’s DNA. They aren’t twins, and DNA evidence today is certainly capable of discerning an individual person, and not just a family. Yet Hosp needed it to be the brother, so voila, it was the brother.
There are other problems. Certain phone calls are never explained. The motivation of a certain cop is never explained. A small operation done by cops is highly, extremely illegal and unsafe. Other problems persist.
Yet for all its flaws, I found it enthralling. I stayed up past my bedtime, unwilling to put it down. One thing I really liked was the ending. Finn didn’t get the girl. Finn’s love interest is in DC working at Homeland Security, and he knows he won’t move to DC; he simply loves Boston too much. Yet he’s hopeful they’ll get their act together and find a way to make it work. Kudos to Hosp for being unafraid of the imperfect ending.
The writing is unobtrusive. There was no sentence that made me stop and think “that was beautiful” or “that was awful.” Yet it made me want to continue reading.
This is a good airplane book. Don’t expect everything to make sense. But the characters are likable, it’s a fast read, and it will stick with you for a while after you turn the last page.(less)
I know, I know. It's fiction, it's a lie... yet the comments about this book have not deterred me from my original opinion when I read this book, whic...moreI know, I know. It's fiction, it's a lie... yet the comments about this book have not deterred me from my original opinion when I read this book, which is that it is a startling, beautiful, shimmering work of art. I do not care about the author's private life, whether the words were based on real events or whether he made them all up. I found it deeply moving.