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Reviews 2008 > Feb2008 - Reviews

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message 1: by Corona (last edited Feb 06, 2008 06:17PM) (new)

Corona (signorarivera) | 65 comments Mod
February 2008 - Reads:
Book 1 - THE WATER CLOCK – 1st in series
Jim Kelly
Book 2 - HOME FIRES - 6th in series
Unlicensed Invest-Deborah Knott-NC-Cont
Margaret Maron
Book 3 - CITY OF THE ABSENT – 2nd in series
Licensed Invest-Alastair Ransom-Chicago-1893
Robert W. Walker

message 2: by Corona (last edited Feb 08, 2008 06:40AM) (new)

Corona (signorarivera) | 65 comments Mod

Jen - Okay - I enjoyed the use of flashback in this novel. It helped bring details of the mystery out little by little, which in turn created suspense; the build up was better than the outcome, I thought. I don’t really think that both plots needed to occur simultaneously, though. The subplot dealing with Philip and Kathy’s car accident didn’t really need to be involved, and I think it kind of muddied the waters, so to speak. There ended up being quite a few characters in this book.

I had difficulty liking Philip Dryden. And his feelings toward his wife seemed to be inconsistent. He visits her daily, talks to her, tries to protect her when he knows someone is breaking in her room; yet, he doesn’t seem to believe she has any chance of recovery and then jumps in bed with Kathy Wilde. A lot of the time I didn’t feel he had any true emotions for either one of the women; he was just driven to get the story, and he’d use anyone and everyone to get there. Andrew Stubbs came across as indifferent to me as well. He was trying to save his job, but it seemed to me more like going through the motions than really WANTING to keep his job.

I did enjoy the character of Humph. He was unique. And I thought Billy Shepherd was a well-developed character. He came across as genuine to me. He really wanted to find out what happened to his brother.

Overall, the novel was okay, but I’m not interested in pursuing any of the others in this series.

Libby - VG - The book did a good job of capturing the sense of place but made her glad she wasn't there. It definitely kept her reading and the characters were good. She didn't guess who the killer was even though she wasn't surprised when she found out.
LJ - VG - I can understand why this book was short listed for a CWA John Creasey award.. It did take me a bit to realize that while he’s telling the present day story, he is also telling the events of the past and bringing the two together in an “oh, wow” ending with all the ends neatly tied up. The characters are great; Dryden is interesting and multi-dimensional and his driver, Humphrey H. Holt, could become a favorite of mine. Kelly’s use of the weather is critical to the story. It was refreshing that the original crime isn’t a serial killing. It is also nice that the story is not set in London , but in the Cambridgeshire Fens . This is the first book I’ve read of Kelly’s and it definitely won’t be the last.
Nancy - VG/VG+ - She liked it a lot. It reminded her of Nine Tailors, which she went back and reread. there are a lot of similarities between the two books. The only thing Nancy didn't like was the flashback technique.

message 3: by Corona (last edited Feb 08, 2008 06:41AM) (new)

Corona (signorarivera) | 65 comments Mod
HOME FIRES - Reviews

Jen - G - This novel seemed to start off rather slow. Looking back now, I see that it was very strong in character development, not as strong in plot development.

The character of Deborah was rather humorous. First of all she is “Judge Knott” in a book with strong religious references and racial issues – a la “Judge not lest ye be judged”? I also loved the pragmatist and the preacher. Made me think of movies and television where a little person sits on each shoulder of the character.
I enjoyed the way Maron made religious threads weave through the entire novel. Not only does the novel involve burning churches, but each chapter starts out with a church sign. Personally, I get a kick out of reading church signs and the way they make use of the English language and its devices. Then of course there are quite a few Biblical illusions scattered throughout as well.

I also found her approach to the racial issues of the book interesting. There are many people out there trying to make a difference – both black and white, but those same people, well-meaning as they are, continue to keep the divide present.

There were some small details throughout that seemed to bug me. For example, toward the end, Deborah calls the sheriff to tell him to get a warrant to search a home. Yet, she gives no just cause for the warrant – she simply says “make sure you get [it].” No judge would do that because he/she would know a warrant couldn’t be issued just on say-so; cause is mandatory.

LJ - VG - It had been awhile since I’d read Maron; I’d forgotten how good she is and what strong, character-driven mysteries she writes. I love Deborah’s relationship with her family and friends. Her observations on society and racism were insightful without being preachy. Deborah’s inner self of The Preacher and the Pragmatist add humor and insight into the character. The story is engrossing and I was surprised by the killer. This was a wonderful, straight-through read and a classic example as to why Ms. Maron is an award-winning author.
Nancy - VG+ - There's that flash back, flash forward thing again. Other than that, she really got excited by this book and immediately went out to get more of Maron's books. She really liked her sense of place.

message 4: by Corona (last edited Feb 08, 2008 06:37AM) (new)

Corona (signorarivera) | 65 comments Mod

Jen - VG+ - I loved the historical context of this novel. The references to Twain and Dickens were wonderful. And just as Jane felt “like she was in a Charles Dickens serial tale in the Tribune newspaper, anxiously awaiting the next chapter,” so did I. A part of me was screaming, “No, you can’t end it this way.” And another part of me was thinking, “How brilliant; how ironic; how wonderful!”

The constant tension between Jane and Alastair is amusing and adds so much to both of their characters. Their strong wills and determination are a given, but their relationship to each other brings out another dimension in them both. They both have the ability to put someone else before their selves. They are both prominent figures in the society, but at the same time they aren’t accepted – Alastair because of a reputation he’s established (or that’s been established for him) in law enforcement and Jane because she’s a woman who wants to work in a “man’s” field. And despite this lack of acceptance (or maybe because of it), they are extremely accepting of each other and those they come into contact with.

The concept of Vander and Philander is also a good one. The idea of the two people containing the different “parts” of the whole. Philander is intelligent but Vander has the physical strength. Philander is more physically attractive on the outside, but Vander has the potential for compassion and that makes him more attractive on the inside. One can’t seem to function without the other.

I was intrigued at the choice of Henry Bosch for Alastair’s snitch. I couldn’t help but wonder if Walker was influenced by Michael Connelly on that one.

I did kind of feel like the Mayor’s murder was inconsequential. It didn’t really seem to have any significance in the overall scheme of things, so I found myself wondering why it was included at all?

I’m definitely going back to read the prequels to this novel, and Walker absolutely MUST continue this series.

Corona - G - She enjoyed a lot of the parts and gave the author a lot of poetic license. She kept expected Jane to get busted. Corona did feel all the loose strings made the author seem like a fraud. If you're going to write a story, tell the whole story.
Libby - G - She is 1/3 of the way through the book and having a bit of trouble. the language is fairly flowery. The author makes several references to past books but gives you enough so they make sense. The period detail is well done. However, there were so many characters, it is hard to keep track of them. She does plan to finish the book but may not read any more by Walker.
LJ - NR - Chicago, as true of most major cities in the late 1800s, is dark, dangerous and has, in large part, a corrupt government and police force. Walker evokes the feeling of this time very well, and that’s the positive. For me, the negatives vastly outweighed the positive. Clearly, one should have, and the author seems to assume one has, read the first two books in the series to have a real feel for the main characters and understand the relationships between them to the point where it felt manipulative. Not having so done, the most of the back story and much of the character development was missing. There were several plot lines going on and it was all a bit of a jumble. I’m not certain we ever found out who sot the mayor. If we did, I missed it. That no one suspected the duplicity of the female protagonist seemed completely improbable to me and the two females in the story did something so dumb and with an outcome so predictable, it absolutely made me scream with irritation. The use of “Harry Bosch,” Michael Connelly’s protagonist, as the name of the snitch, is a nice homage, but it took me completely out of the story. I found myself not liking any of the characters, including the protagonist. This book would have been an “Okay” for me but the ending made it a wall-banger. I shall definitely not be reading any more by this author.
Nancy - NR - This was pathetic. It seemed as though the author had read "Devil in the White City" by Eric Larson and decided to fictionalize the story. The characterization of a woman dressing as a man and not being found out seemed absurd.

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