JUST FINISHED: A Killer Plot

Author: Ellery Adams

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Well, I made it about sixty percent through this book. So what went wrong?

The book begins with an intriguing but snooty lead character with a jagged childhood and now, much older, lives off the wealth (and continued growth of wealth by her own doing) from an aunt. She is single, proud of it, and her greatest friend is her loyal poodle.

She is trying to write her first novel and ends up joining a group of beginning novelists that meet weekly and critique one another’s in-progress books. To not divulge further into the plot, a murder eventually happens in what is normally a small, sleepy coastal town to which the lead herself feels propelled to help solve.

While I believe this book does have an interesting plot that could certainly take on many angles, my biggest problem lied within the writing and characters themselves.

Starting with the characters; they just came off as a cookie cutter people. You have the bedazzling gay man, the dark punk, the shy guy (who likes the dark punk), the “I can do everything” mommy, the waitress with an edge, the swanky bookshop owner, the soft cop, and the list goes on and on… Not one of these characters step outside of their boundaries, always swaying into their very defined roles in the way that they acted and spoke.

I cannot stand it when you put characters in a box. Real people (well, a majority of real people) do not behave that way, so why should your characters? I don’t know; maybe for some people that is a forced point and it is intended, but for me it’s a real Debbie-downer.

It took me a good four weeks just to get to sixty percent thanks to the writing. I found it really hard to get into this novel due to the unnecessary level of detail and information that the author uses. Let me show you an example:

“Satisfied with her appearance, Olivia slung the bag containing her clothes onto the chair in her office and marched out to the dining room to meet her guest. Chief Rawlings stood at the bar, a martini glass in his hand. He and Gabe were engaged in casual conversation and Olivia reflected that most people seemed completely at ease in the lawman’s presence.”

We were previously told that she left a change of clothes for herself in the office and then this paragraph hits a few later. Is it not obvious that clothes would be in her bag? Do I need to know that she put them back in the office, specifically in a chair? We are stung again by how easy people seem around the lawman (this is very repetitive in the novel). I think the paragraph sounds better like this:

“Satisfied with her appearance, Olivia marched out to the dining room to meet her guest. Chief Rawlings stood at the bar, a martini glass in hand, lightly talking to Gabe.”

Loaded paragraphs like the author uses just make it really difficult for me to keep going. I’m not a fan of unnecessary information. If you like mysteries with predictable people and glossy details, go right ahead with this one. Otherwise, maybe the next one I’m reading will be for you (Kingsolver tends to never fail!)

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