, February 15, 2013
ByArlene Kay (Cape Cod Massachusetts)
This review is from: Gone Girl: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was eager to read GONE GIRL, the fabulously successful novel by Gillian FLynn. Frankly, as a writer myself, I find there is much to learn from most best sellers, even ones outside my own genre. The verdict on GONE GIRL is decidedly mixed. Flynn’s descriptive powers and character building are excellent as is her dialogue. She infused both Nick and Amy (the POV stars) with strong voices and provides enough details about their proclivities and flaws to hook the reader. Initially. Midway through this novel (not really a mystery, folks), I felt restless and wanted it to end already. GONE GIRL is at best a psychological study, an intense and overlong look at the implosion of a marriage.
Fans of the execrable “Rizzoli & Isles” television show go no farther. Tess Gerritsen’s deftly crafted plots and characters bear no resemblance to the cartoonish portrayals and cringe-worthy dialogue on the small screen. She masters the intelligent police procedural and keeps readers turning every page with her. Gerritsen masters the big 3 of mysteries: engaging characters, lively pace and a cracking plot that only the most astute crime buff will solve. (I did).
SILENT GIRL seamlessly blends the raucous streets of Boston with the often unknowable mystique of China town. Maura Isles is a secondary character here, yielding center stage to a resurgent Jane Rizzoli and an intriguing protagonist and Sifu named Iris Fang. In tackling the coldest of cases, Jane probes a heinous mass murder that may be related to the disappearance of young girls. The author does a fine job with strong, flawed female leads whose qualities mesmerize us. The males in the mix are also captivating including her loyal partner Frost, the amorous Korshak, and an intriguing new detective named Johnny Tam.
I enjoyed this novel and recommend it to anyone (regardless of genre preference) who values a quality read.
”Mistress”–semantics or sexism?
I’ve heard all the elaborate explanations and I’m unconvinced. For once, even the Bard’s inspired words (‘a rose by any other name’), leave me cold. The latest tempest in a particularly steamy teapot, has the word “Mistress” bandied about with such abandon that even Madame Pompadour would blush!
Paula Broadwell is most certainly not a ‘kept’ woman as the word mistress implies. Despite claims that it is merely a semantical distinction, I sense sexism and an unhealthy dose of contempt in the use of this term to designate a BAD woman, without a corresponding term for her male counterpart.(dupe or idiot spring to mind). She apparently was the General’s lover, paramour or sex partner. The same is allegedly true for him. As media lackeys (both male and female) trumpet the same tired jargon, the message seeps into the American consciousness. MISTRESS–hussy,strumpet, vixen, the kind of woman society should scorn and revile. Coupled with the strong presumption that the man in question was either duped (fog of war–please?), or beguiled by her charms, the stage is set for a modern replay of the Garden of Eden. This time around, the temptress holds a biography not an apple.
Can an idol have feet of flesh? Even fine writers occasionally dip a toe into the sea of mediocrity, right? Not so when the name is Nelson DeMille, known for deft dialogue, superior plotting, and characters that just won’t quit!
DeMille’s latest “The Panther” is another master work that thrusts the reader into the familiar world of John Corey, my very favorite series character. True, Corey is snarky, but that quirk is offset by his bravery and devotion to his country and long-suffering FBI wife. Any writer who longs to immortalize his/her creations, must take a lesson from any of DeMille’s many novels. His characters literally leap off the page, confounding us with emotions (often politically incorrect), that we may recognize in ourselves. No one does dialogue better–No One! So grab “the Panther” and while you’re at it, refresh your memory with John Corey’s other exploits (The Lion; The Lion’s Game). You’ll cheer, worry, and obsess about the plot lines and the fate of those involved. Writers will learn something; readers will be glad they found him.
Does murky weather turn your mind to murder? As one who constantly dabbles in the macabre, this thought occurred to me: what better time to commit the ultimate anti-social act? Odds are, in the midst of crushing damage and devastation,local authorities will attribute loss of life to the natural disaster unless of course a murderer dispatches his victim with a bullet, knife or garrote. The proverbial blunt instrument, a tried and true method, will likely go unnoticed in a tumult that accompanies a natural disaster. If this horrifies you, consider the source. There are no accidental deaths to a mystery writer, only novels yet to be written.
Just returned from taping a television interview in DC with host John Lovass and 2 other mystery authors. (Lane Stone and Donna Andrews).
The event was entertaining, amusing and lots of clean wholesome fun. Despite that, I enjoyed myself. In the course of our discussion, the host proved that he had indeed read all 3 novels by pinpointing a misspelled name in one of the books. We looked at each other, shrugged, and strongly hinted that he had ingested some strange substance. Streams of heavy denial flooded the studio as we defended the purity and artistic integrity of our works. I (mentally) combed through INTRUSION and determined that I didn’t even have a character by that name.One of the other authors looked guilty and I strongly suspected her of double-dealing.
After returning home, I did a cursory word search of INTRUSION and low and behold, I found that error nestled in the comely bosom of my very book. For shame!
I feel surprise, chagrin and a great deal of relief that my crime was hidden from the viewing audience. Now no one will ever know …
Keep your day job (as long as it doesn’t involve writing). Have you ever longed to dispense that advice to a would-be novelist but were too kind or cowardly to do so? The self-publishing phenomenon coupled with the democratic ideal that ANYONE can write a novel present an ethical dilemma to many of us. Technology allows those with tenacity and funding to produce a book whether or not it is worth reading. Skills such as talent, imagination and ability may be cast to the winds without a publishing gatekeeper to provide input. Some writers refuse to accept the mildest suggestions, even ones that can help to point them in the right direction. They regard criticism as a foreign substance whose poison must be immediately expelled from their body. As a result, the literary world is awash with detritus. For every hidden gem one finds a nest of ill conceived, poorly written tomes that should immediately be consigned to the remainder bin. For those who yearn to write, listen to your peers as well as your own inner voice. Good writers are few and far between. So consider this advice: keep your day job.
How far would you go to promote your book? Would you sacrifice your own (& your family’s ) privacy to guest on “60 minutes”?Arnold did and it worked! Naturally, his life story is far more compelling than my mundane exploits and he is a public figure, but, honesty compels me to admit that book sales being what they are, I’d jump at the chance to appear. I’d have to fabricate torrid affairs with prominent figures (check), embellish my accomplishments(why not?), and endure the prattle of idiots like Leslie Stahl.(ugh!). Despite the hardships, when my quarterly royalty check rolled around, I’d laugh all the way to the ATM. What about you?
Should writers read the online reviews of their novels that appear on Amazon, Goodreads etc.? I’m ambivalent about it. Like most people, I enjoy reading reviews that praise my books, and I force myself to scan (but not obsess over), less commendatory comments. Reviews are a key ingredient in any writer’s sales strategy. That doesn’t take away the sting of truly snarky, or blatantly unfair statements. Several well known authors have told me that they never read their reviews. Maybe it’s better to delegate that task.
Must all romance novels have a happy ending? That’s a basic tenet of the genre. The HEA (happily ever after ending), is a prerequisite for getting published and a guarantee for all readers. Ambiguity is never countenanced in Romance fiction, although in reality it is often the rule. Mystery readers, on the other hand, are realists who focus more on unmasking the villain than uncovering the alpha hunk.That divergence explains why writing Romantic Suspense/mystery is a tricky proposition. The author must satisfy the conventions of Romance writing, while still adhering to the needs of mystery readers for a taut, tantalizing crime story. It’s a challenge, but for those with the talent and tenacity the rewards are enormous! …