A couple of DNFs

>> Sunday, October 19, 2014

TITLE: Murder in the Marais
AUTHOR: Cara Black

I picked this one up based on its setting: it's a mystery set in Paris. Aimée Leduc is a PI specialising in computer-based investigations (the book is set in the mid-90s, so that element felt a bit quaint!). She's approached by an old Jewish man asking her to do a decoding job for him, which she reluctantly accepts (she's wary of getting involved in dangerous work, since her policeman father was killed as a result of doing just that). Having broken the relevant code and accessed a photograph, she takes it to the location her client instructed. And there she discovers her instincts were right. The woman she was supposed to give the photograph to, an old Jewish lady, has been murdered, a swastika carved on her body.

And here we get to what didn't work for me. Of course, if Aimée just turned over all she knew to the police and butted out of the investigation, we wouldn't have a story. But there are ways of keeping her involved, and not all of them require her to behave like an idiot and illegally hide evidence from the police for no good reason, and in ways that completely wreck the police investigation. I didn't understand why Aimée did the things she did, and felt the plotting lacked subtlety. As did, actually, the parallel storyline about a former SS member who's now a minister in the German government and has been pressured by a Neo-Nazi secret organisation into coming to Paris.

The bones of the plot seemed ok, and I'd normally be interested in it, but the execution felt much too clumsy and contrived. The secondary characters were stereotypical and I found Aimée quite preposterous. I gave up after about 100 pages.


TITLE: Black at Heart
AUTHOR: Leslie Parrish (now Leslie A. Kelly)

This is the third in a series whose first two books I really liked a few years ago, about an FBI team investigating cyber-crimes. In the previous book, Lily decided decided to go all vigilante and try to catch a paedophile the team had come across in an online investigation (her nephew had been killed by a paedophile, so her work was always really personal for her). Lily went outside her team to do so, and was captured by the man she was after, who kept her captive for days. Her team, including her enigmatic boss, Wyatt Blackstone, thought she was dead. She managed to call Wyatt for help, though, and he rescued her. Since then, Wyatt has helped her stay in hiding and everyone thinks she's dead. Except the paedophile suspects she might still be out there, and has hatched a plan to force her out.

This just didn't work for me. It took me ages to get into it at the beginning (weeks and weeks to read the first half of the book), mainly because I didn't find the characters particularly interesting. This was a trilogy constructed to have the last book contain the romance the readers would be dying to read, but I... wasn't. The relationship between Wyatt and Lily felt unequal in the first two books, and even though now she's supposed to be so much stronger, I just didn't feel it. Plus, I was a bit annoyed at the direction the suspense element was taking. The villain was revealed to be rich and powerful and preparing to use that power and money to target Lily, even using the police and justice system. That's not a plot that is to my taste.

So, a disappointment. I'm not sure if I would have liked this better when the series first came out, but I didn't now.



CD,  22 October 2014 at 20:18  

Sweetie - what are you doing reading a couple of no-hopers when all we're breathlessly waiting to hear about are your reactions to the next installments in the Vorkosigan saga! I bet anything you'd care to wager that neither MIRROR DANCE nor MEMORY would be DNF... My God, MEMORY - that book kicked me in the gut and I NEED to hear what it did to you ;-)¬

We gave you some time off with the Booker prize thing (grrr - boring lit stuff) but now's the time to get back to genre.

Rosario 23 October 2014 at 06:39  

Hahah! I'm getting there, I'm getting there! I've finished the other 2 short stories in the Borders of Infinity anthology, and now I'm immersed in Brothers in Arms. It's just I want to savour them, they're so good! But yeah, I wish I'd spent my time on them rather than on these ones!

CD,  23 October 2014 at 22:56  

Ouch - I can't believe I forgot about BROTHERS IN ARMS! Great book in which you meet a certain rather important plot development ;-). It suffers unfairly from being seen as a bit of transition book between early madcap Miles and the later, erm, things that happen. But as usual, Bujold has important things to say about what it takes to build peace after conflict. Anyway, hurry up and read it - you can savour them the second, third, fourth, fifth etc time round like the rest of us.

"We've lost count of how many times we've had friends claimed by Vorkosigan addiction. The symptoms are easy to recognize: an obsession with Barrayaran politics, a tendency to quote Miles Vorkosigan's highly quotable lines, and a tendency to bail on social events with a muttered, "Can't come. There are still Vorkosigan books I haven't read yet."

CD,  23 October 2014 at 23:13  

BTW, I'm really envious of you: my favourite books in the Vorkosigan saga are MIRROR DANCE, MEMORY, KOMARR and A CIVIL CAMPAIGN. And those are the next four books you have ahead of you!!

Rosario 24 October 2014 at 06:52  

Unfortunately, I've had that rather important plot development spoilt for me by people talking about earlier books (who clearly assume everyone must have read the entire series already). Eh, well.

I've got a holiday coming up over Christmas, so I'm hoping I might get up to A Civil Campaign during that. Though I really don't want to read too many in a row and burn out on them!

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