Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson

Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide 2011

Jessie has a fear of feathers. A phobia, really, total full-on medical name for it and everything fear of feathers. That’s where it starts.

Oh, wait. No. The book starts with a woman locked in some sort of box or vault or something. Readers aren’t sure because the space is dark. And the narrative doesn’t return to the box or vault except for a very few times.

So, the book whiplashes between a heavy, terrorizing scene and one that’s smarmily funny. Watch out, because these same weaknesses will show up again. The lady in the box isn’t visited enough to justify having her be at the opening, yet if we didn’t know she was in there the narrative wouldn’t have nearly as much drive.

Or would it? The rest of the book, Jessie’s story and the narrative flow and the characters and how the characters develop, are all quite enjoyable. How did it turn out that the lady in the box had to show up? Was this a publisher pushing the author to do something that wasn’t in the original draft, and the author caved because a contract with changes to the novel is better than no contract? Or were these scenes part of the original concept but haven’t been handled well by the author?

Interesting things to think about if you like to think about those kinds of things. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s a better-than-average take on the somewhat funny, self-denigrating yet more than capable female protagonist who stumbles on a mystery that must be solved. In time for the lady in the box to live, preferably, but since readers don’t really need to know that to enjoy this story, we could just overlook that, yes?

4 stars

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The Blue by Lucy Clarke

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Touchstone

An interesting story that holds some unique challenges for the author. Lana has spent some months on a sailboat with a handful of others who are all running—either from something or to something in their lives. She too was hoping to find herself and a new life when she joined the raggedy band. But then someone died and she bailed.

Now, the boat she was on has sunk in a storm. The Blue, a yacht carrying a crew of five at the time it went down, is the object of a search and rescue mission. After struggling with her memories of those months on board, she goes to the Coast Guard to see if her best friend is among the survivors.

What follows are the interwoven stories of her time on board and the rescue attempt. What is revealed about the captain and first mate, the other crew, and the best friends tells a tale not so much of sordid or shocking secrets but one that is burdened with all too familiar human drama. The complexities of how we present ourselves to others, as well as the illusions we attempt to maintain even in the forced intimacy of situations like a shipboard life, provides a compelling read.

Although at times the narrative feels like it wanders slightly, the writing is strong and the human interrelationships will draw you in. Well worth the investment of time to engage with this story.

4 stars

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The Dinosaur Feather by S.J. Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather by S.J. Gazan

Translated from Danish by Charlotte Barslund

Published in Denmark by Glydendals Bogklubber 2008

Published in US by Quercus 2013

Very interesting premise, and a strong female protagonist. So, great start! Plus I’m a sucker for books from Denmark and surrounding nations, so of course I had to read this one.

It turned out to be an all right experience. Interesting enough to hold my attention for quite some time. But toward the end things got shaky. The big reveal at the end, the solving of the mystery and dealing justice to the criminal, felt common and too easy. Additionally, having the female protagonist subdue the killer, who far outstrips her in weight and strength, by capturing him with nothing more than her wits and two zip ties…yes, you read that right, zip ties…oversteps the bounds of credibility.

Overall, though, a quite enjoyable read if you are in the mood for a lark that isn’t too demanding and has nice character development.

3 stars

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The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz

Little, Brown

With an endorsement by Stephen King on the cover, this book is sure to sell. But don’t be fooled. What starts out as an interesting premise embedded in a format that could be mind-blowing turns into a plodding narrative with characters that are drawn with surprisingly less skill than is needed.

The idea is that four planes crash on the same day. From three wrecks there is one survivor each, and each survivor is a child. Thus on the face of innocence are we supposed to read dread and danger. And there is of course the “missing” survivor, the child who survived the last plane crash but who was whisked away before any officials arrived at the site.

Early on the author’s ability to handle so many different character perspectives shows through. It goes from being mildly annoying to, as the number of voices grows, being too difficult an issue to overlook. The fact that the plot doesn’t really move forward and instead relies on endless teasers of things readers have already figured out doesn’t help.

2 stars

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