Friday, November 6, 2009

Book 2 - Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

Book of the Dead ~ Patricia Cornwell

I'm not sure I can make this review stretch out enough, because I hated this book. I've been a big fan of Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series, and even though the last few novels prior to this one have dropped the ball somewhat, I still enjoyed them enough to read them in one sitting. Not so with Book of the Dead. Oh how I hated this book. A few books back, Cornwell changed her writing style and although I didn't like it as much as her former style, the books still held my interest. Maybe it was because I was comfortable and familiar with Kay Scarpetta and her fellow characters, or because I'm a sucker for a book series. I'm not sure which it is, but I read Blowfly and Trace and liked them well enough. Not enough to read again, but not enough to hate passionately or really care either way. 

I wanted to burn Book of the Dead. Light it on fire and dance around it celebrating its demise. It was choppy, the characters were horrible, even the old familiar characters, or at least the characters that should be old and familiar, were completely different. It was set in South Carolina and Lucy, Marino, Rose and Benton are back, but the characters are so one dimensional and flat that it's hard to believe they ever had depth. The story rambles and stutters and at times shoots off into side tangents that were completely pointless. I had no problem when Cornwell moved the characters from Virginia and changed to a third-person writing style, although I felt the books weren't as strong because of it, but something really went drastically wrong in this book.

I can usually breeze through a decent novel in an hour or so. It took DAYS to finish this one, because it was almost physically painful to try to read it. Every minute or so I kept having the urge to beat myself in the head with it because maybe a concussion would improve it. Then I started blanking out on full pages and found I had to go back several pages and re-read them which just added to the agony. I couldn't read more than a few pages at a time before I was pissed off. I kept muttering for days how much I hated this book. I almost got to a point where I was going to completely write off the book and not finish it and I never ever do that. I'm not sure if it speaks to my perseverance or insanity that I finished it. Probably both. What a waste of time I spent trying to get through it and to have it be so unsatisfactory at the end. I kept holding out hope that there'd be SOMETHING redeeming about it and there was nothing.

This stupid book made me doubt my feelings for her older novels so I've gone back to the start of the Scarpetta series and although the books are dated, I'm still enjoying them. I've also read the book she wrote since Book of the Dead. Scarpetta is a much better novel and closer in tone and character development to the older novels, but Book of the Dead is just plain horrible. I can't state just how much I hated this book.

Just don't read it. If you want a good firestarter or something with which to knock yourself into unconsciousness, it's perfect. Other than that, not good at all. So very, very not good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book 1 - The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

I've been a fan of Jeffery Deaver's writing style and characters for a long time, but I've been unable to find any new Lincoln Rhyme books at the local library that I haven't already read so when I was there last and saw a book written by him that I hadn't read before, I snatched it up. In The Cold Moon, an earlier Lincoln Rhyme novel, the character Kathryn Dance was introduced. The Sleeping Doll is the first book where she plays the lead character.

Kathryn Dance is an investigator with the California Bureau of Investigation specializing in kinesics, and is called in to question a convicted murderer named Daniel Pell, a Charles Manson-like killer who led a small cult, about another murder which has evidence that points to the fact that he did it. He was convicted of killing an entire family and also his co-conspirator during a robbery. There was a witness left behind; a 9 year old girl the press refers to as The Sleeping Doll because she was asleep under her dolls at the time of the murders and was overlooked. After the interview she realizes that he set up the entire thing to escape from the lower security prison where the interview was held since he was no longer in maximum security. The CBI and prison officials and various police forces rush to stop him from escaping but to no avail. He escapes and then the real story begins.

The book follows Kathryn and her fellow CBI investigators as they hunt down Daniel Pell who, for some reason they're unable to discern, isn't leaving the area and seems determined to finish some unfinished business. Joining the team is an FBI cult expert who works with her to figure out Pell's motives for staying in the area and together with a freelance journalist who is writing a true crime book about the case, they track down the former cult members who were a part of Pell's "family" as well as the now teenage witness and try to figure out how he escaped, who is helping him on the run and what his final plan is.

Deaver writes with loads of expression and twists and turns. It's actually hard to write this review because too many details would give away too much of the plot and there are several plot twists and turns that seem to come from the most innocuous detail. The book is very similar in tone to the Lincoln Rhyme novels and weirdly reminded me of the television show "The Mentalist" and not just because both lead characters (the book and the show) work for the CBI. How she reads people and discerns the things they aren't verbally saying reminds me of the Patrick Jane character. Of course she's a trained investigator and he is a former "medium" but there were similarities between the characters that popped into my head several times while reading it.

I really enjoyed the book and found it very easy to read and with a solid, stable plot. The twist at the end was predictable but enjoyable. I wasn't upset with the ending either, unlike some books where it's very disappointing how the authors end the book with a twist that really had nothing to do with the story (Jodi Picoult, I'm looking at you). All in all, it was a good starting point for a new series of novels along the same vein as Deaver's Rhyme novels.

A little bit of business....

Today is November 2, the start date for Cannonball Read. Which I'm all ready to start posting reviews as I read them, but I really needed to make a disclaimer. I read anything and everything. A lot of horrible trash. I've got 5 kids and teach them at home, so I'm inundated with "smart" books. When I read for pleasure, it's usually trash. Good trash at times, but trash. I'm not going to change that however. There may be a couple of "smart" books in the next year, but most of them are going to be total brain candy :D It's like bad TV for readers.

So with that out of the way, let the 52 books in 52 weeks begin!