Thursday, October 2, 2014

So Close and Yet…

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – David Shafer (Mulholland Books)

The literary comparisons that have been fired over the bow of David Shafre’s debut novel reads like a cornucopia of hipster critical favorites including the likes of Don Delillo, Philip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon and Cormac McCarthy.

So how does Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stack up in the real reader world? Shafer delivers an intriguing concept and well-drawn characters that are crafted with a nuanced style. The book is so full of promise that it elevates the level of disappointment that is attendant to the simple fact that Shafer fails to deliver a satisfying ending.

Murder 101 – Faye Kellerman (William Morrow)

There is something comforting about familiar character that inhabit an ongoing book series. Like a well-worn shoe or a worked in pair of gloves, it’s easy for readers to overlook a few scuffs or tears in the storyline.

Murder 101 bestselling author Faye Kellerman’s latest installment in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazerus series finds the duo pulling up roots and relocating from Los Angeles to upstate New York; looking to enjoy a more relaxed, picturesque lifestyle. Like the best laid plans…things go quickly off the tracks, and Decker is plunged into investigating a brutal murder.

While the story is prime Kellerman, the number of logistical and editing errors, quickly topple the tale. Perhaps the setting relocation from the familiar confines of Southern California to the bucolic region of New York may have been the authors undoing.

Haunted – A Hannah Smith Novel – Randy Wayne White (Putnam Books)

With over 20 books to his credit, Randy Wayne White brings a steady, consistent hand and is reliable in delivering not only solid stories and memorable characters set in authentic locales, in and around Florida’s Everglades. His Doc Ford series has always been among my favorites.

Recently White has served up a couple of books featuring Hannah Smith; the latest is Haunted, which features his take on a familiar theme, the attempt to stop developers from destroying a historic property in the name of “progress” in the form of new condos. Set against the backdrop of her family’s history and the Civil War, Hannah gets placed squarely in the middle of this ages old battle. While the story chugs along a steady clip, it runs out a gas, leaving things with a disappointing conclusion. Perhaps a return visit to the land of Doc is in order.  

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