The cover says '5 million copies sold' .. but did no-one look at the opening pages of this book and EDIT it? Kill at least some of the extraneous adverbs? Try harder with the clumsy and repetitive scene-setting? What's with 'wind-whipped' three times in as many (not very windy) pages?
I actually wanted to get out a red pen and do some serious work here. I even thought of taking a rewrite to my reading group. Just to prove how much better the English language was than this.
The book did improve - I did want to know what was going to happen in the court / high-seas story.
But the terrible writing returned in uneven purple patches. The shoe-horning in of everything you 'need' to have in a 'well-written' book was plain annoying.
Evoking smell and touch as well as sight? Tick!
(Though it got nowhere near my sensuous soul.)
Racism and gender equality? Tick!
(Though I'm no further forward on the issues.)
Sex. Of course, not too vulgar, and with plenty of fore-play? Tick!
(Though my knickers stayed bone-dry)
Bla, bla, bla?
Tick! Tick! Tick!
I ended up thinking the author had had a great plot idea. Which he thrashed to death on index cards, and then larded with all the descriptive bits you read about in school. Which fits with wiki saying Mr Guterson was a teacher. Which maybe explains my bizarre red-pen and edit idea.
I can't end without mentioning all the car-accidents in the snow. These are island-folk. Farmers and fishers. They don't mess around driving their vehicles into ditches after a bit of snow! Show some respect to your characters, please, Sir.