This is a brutal and haunting book about a murdered family. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows and admires the suspected killer, a college professor who hasThis is a brutal and haunting book about a murdered family. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows and admires the suspected killer, a college professor who has everything. Everything until his perfect family is murdered in the night and he becomes the perfect suspect. Unable to remember what happened, he can’t help the reader decide whether to pity or hate him.
DeMarco doesn’t have to just search for the murderer, he also has to examine himself in this extremely well-written suspense novel. While seeking the answers that will unlock the secret of the murders, he also explores his history for clues in the loss of his own family.
**spoiler alert** I really looked forward to reading this book and had it on hold for a long time at the local library. I thought that since so many p**spoiler alert** I really looked forward to reading this book and had it on hold for a long time at the local library. I thought that since so many people were reading it and it was on the New York Times’ Bestseller List, it would be great. Overall, it was a good story with likable characters, but there were some elements that made it difficult to truly enjoy.
On the very first page the characters are going to carry two canoes. They are referred to as “crafts.” NO! Multiple watercraft, aircraft, or spacecraft are referred to as “craft.” The editors really dropped the ball on that one. Another editorial failure was that the story referred to a character that was in many scenes throughout the book by her full name even when it made no sense to do so. Sometimes twice on the same page. Although it was occasionally correct for a character to say “Lindsay Harris,” most the time it was not. Yes, we get it; she’s the only one named “Lindsay” for miles. It reminded me (unfortunately) of “Marcia, Marcia, MARCIA!” This continued until about page 179 when it seemed like the text had been edited by someone else. There were also a few run-on sentences throughout, but nothing egregious like in a Victorian novel. Why am I so picky about this? It ruined my reading experience. I was mentally correcting the text as I read. I have experience editing and proofing so I felt somebody only skimmed through the text before it was published. I feel frustrated for the author.
The biggest problem I saw with the story is the time of year that this is set in. My husband and I are experienced canoe campers. Much of that experience comes from the BWCA and northern Ontario, with some of the BWCA experience in October. Our October BWCA experience? It can and will snow the first weekend! We woke up one time to temps in the teens and a couple of inches of snow on our tent! One of the characters in the book who is dressed in a leather jacket, sweater, and pants lies in a bog. Even though he is wet he isn’t worried about getting cold because he’s “layered in wool.” Later, he spends the night under clear skies without a tent, sleeping bag, or fire. Our consensus was that he would have died without a drysuit and a warm sleeping bag. Why? The average temperatures for the BWCA in November, as reported at piragis.com, are a high of 32 degrees F and a low of 14 degrees F with an average snowfall that month of 10.1 inches. November 2016, according to NOAA NWS’ (National Weather Service) official observations at International Falls had higher temps AND higher snowfall than normal. Those average temps for November 2016 were a high of 33.7 F and a low of 17.4 F. The previous year’s values (2015) were a high of 41.4 and a low of 25.2. (http://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.p...)
Trust me, hypothermia from being wet and exposed will kill you at temps much higher than 42 degrees F.
I know that most people will just read along and enjoy the story not caring about the reality. Well, it affected my view of the novel because of the reality that I have experienced. Dumping a canoe in Canada in late July has educated me to the fact that getting wet in northern waters was like being punched in the chest; that water temperature was in the 50s. I wasn’t “layered in wool” but I was wearing very technical gear and I needed to get out of my wet clothes, dry myself, and warm up. I also had a rain suit fail on the same trip into the Canadian bush, and although air temperature only dipped into the high 50’s, I was cold and chilled to the bone, shaking and on the verge of hypothermia. The idea that anyone could lie in water and then spend the night outside on a clear night in northern MN with temps less than 20 F is absolutely absurd. It doesn’t work that way.
If you can suspend your disbelief, go for it. The characters are like people you would want to know (except the bad guys), and the BWCA is exotic for many.
This is the book that created a great deal of controversy when it was originally released before Michael Jackson’s death. The edition I read was an upThis is the book that created a great deal of controversy when it was originally released before Michael Jackson’s death. The edition I read was an update to the original and was released after Jackson’s death.
The author apparently knew Michael Jackson since the 1970’s, although how well he knew him I think has been overstated by the author (Taraborrelli). When the book was about to be released the author was reportedly contacted by Michael Jackson’s attorney who first asked to see the manuscript to help fact-check it. That request was refused. Taraborrelli was then reportedly offered $2 million dollars to not publish it. That was refused. Although the text would lead you to believe that he was friends with the Jacksons, I believe he was nothing more than a tolerated reporter, who perhaps, really did like the Jacksons and tried to soft-pedal their scandals. Notably he wrote for the National Enquirer and the Star, two publications I have made an effort to ignore.
He certainly did do his homework via secondary sources, as listed in the back of the book. But then, the Jacksons were his bread and butter as a reporter, and you need to know everything about your stated specialty. (Liz Taylor blew him off in a restaurant, which he surprisingly recounts with grace toward the back of the book.)
This book does give a lot of information that purportedly is an accurate reporting of not only Jackson’s personal life but also his business dealings. I found the information about his royalties on early songs very interesting; his father allowed him and his brothers to be taken by Motown. If the information reported is accurate (which was apparently sourced from filed court documents), Berry Gordy should be eternally ashamed.
The author does stumble when he is discussing MJ’s music; at one point, I believe he refers to the era of “Thriller,” specifically “Billie Jean,” as “electro.” I guess people used that in the ’70’s before anybody knew what electronic music was but it is not appropriate now. At another point he states that “Billie Jean” is techno pop. NO. It IS dance pop. Look up techno pop and you first get photos of Kraftwerk, and later The Eurythmics, AHA, etc. Michael Jackson couldn’t be further from Kraftwerk. (I have also seen “Beat It” classified as dance rock, but definitely not techno.)
The author tries to make the point that MJ was the reason black music started to be shown on MTV, a mainly “white rock and roll” station. He quotes an executive of Warner-AMEX (MTV) as stating that the format of MTV “was strictly rock and roll.” The author also states that after MJ’s “Billie Jean” video was played in March 1983, that a “few more videos by black artists” were played, although “the network still leans [sic] heavily towards white rock and roll.” This really stuck out to me because I don’t think MJ was the ice breaker, and no it wasn’t all white rock n’ roll even in 1983. I know for a fact that MTV was playing Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue,” a song classified as funk, in heavy rotation by June of 1983 because I can still hear that song in my sleep! Looking up “Billboard’s MTV Adds & Rotation” for the week of March 9, 1983, I see that Electric Avenue had just been added, and “Billie Jean” is in medium rotation. Along with them are artists such as Kajagoogoo, Berlin, Falco (“Der Commissar”), The Fixx, A Flock of Seagulls, Thomas Dolby, and PRINCE (“Little Red Corvette.”) None of them could be referred to as “rock ’n roll” of any color! And Prince’s video for “1999” was reportedly debuted on MTV in December 1982, the video for Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” was debuted in March 1983 as was "Billie Jean." So no, these characterizations of either MJ or MTV aren’t very accurate. If you want to name the first black artist, it just might have been Prince.
The narrative gives at least a semblance of fairness toward Michael Jackson, but since we have no direct footnoting to the assertions made by the author, we have no idea how likely it is that each one is accurate. We have narratives at the back of the book discussing what sources the author used for each chapter. That’s probably accurate enough for most people but it would not stand up with most historical biographies.
One thing that REALLY irritated me about this book are the quotations, punctuation, spelling, and dates. Why? Because this edition, although “Printed in the United States of America,” by a publisher located in New York and Boston, with prices only for the U.S. (and Canada) on the dust cover is clearly an edition that was written and edited for a U.K. audience. The publisher Grand Central cheaped out and didn’t bother to re-edit this edition for publication in the U.S. I’m glad I didn’t pay $18.99 for it, but I wish I hadn’t paid the $2.99 at Goodwill either. (And I read novels published in the U.K. all the time; I just think that this shows shoddy work by a supposedly professional publisher.)
And the updated ending? It could’ve been stapled on to the back. Spellings of names were changed from the main text among other things; it seems the editors didn’t read the original text. The one area of continuity were the dumb spelling mistakes. And as for the last few pages: what was said in several pages could’ve been said in one last STRONG paragraph.
If you lived at about the same time as Michael Jackson, you probably know most of this book already.