Friday, January 28, 2011

1st To Die

As I mentioned yesterday, I have recently discovered the absolute joy of If you follow this link, you can get 2 free book credits to try them out. If you have an Amazon account, this is easy and pain free!

The first book I downloaded was James Patterson's '1st To Die', which is the first book in his series called 'Women's Murder Club'. The reviews were definitely mixed, and no matter what, you'll always come across someone who has to be an absolute jerk about the book. After all, chronic complainers have to make a living somehow.

Complaints that I wouldn't have if I had read this book instead of listened to it: The narrator was a bit......dry. And her vocalisations of the four different women were kind of annoying. And the main character's name is Lindsey.... so everytime the narrator said it in an overly-emphasized way, I jumped, thinking that my mother was yelling at me. (I don't even live with my mother!)

By and large, I love a good mystery. This was a good mystery. It wasn't gory or grisly in any way, which I appreciate. I already have trouble sleeping. The last thing I need is a horrific murder description bouncing around in my head at all hours of the night. The adjectives and adverbs in the writing were helpful, rather than exhausting. Nothing gets on my last nerve quicker than too many adjectives and a poor editor who doesn't realize it.

The four women, Lindsay, Claire, Cindy and Jill, are all different pieces of a whole. Lindsay is the tough-as-nails homicide investigator. Claire is the soft, gentle, level-headed medical examiner. Cindy is the upbeat, perky reporter. Jill is the no-nonsense, pragmatic district attorney. this is pretty much the exact character lineup for CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, etc. Jerry Bruckheimer and James Patterson must have the same brainwave pattern.

The plot opens with a suicide attempt, and closes with an accidental death that is so disappointing that I basically yelled "REALLY??" across the living room. (I hate it when there is unnecessary trauma/drama.) The suicide attempt really threw me, because Patterson really never went back to it or resolved it. There was a breif mention of it toward the end, but nothing to justify why it was the opening to the series at all. In between these two events is a serial that involves 3 newlywed couples getting married and murdered within hours of their vows, the narrator of the stor, Lindsay Boxer, is diagnosed with a blood disease - but keeps working at her normal pace and doesn't tell anyone that she's probably dying, a romance between partners, and 4 women who get together to discuss the murders over margaritas. The plot meanders along with just enough intrigue to keep me interested, and enough foreshadowing to put my own mental wheels in motion. I had figured it all out before the end, but I actually like that! I like the mystery novels where I can think about it while reading/listening to it and 'solve the case' mentally with the detectives. (I grew up reading almost nothing but Nancy Drew mysteries.) There was one twist to the ending that made me cringe and wonder why it was there, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the story as a whole. I think sometimes that authors overdo it with the 'intrigue'. They just want to get that 'one more little twist' into the plot. And for me, that 'one more little twist' really did nothing for me. I rolled my eyes and thought 'so X WAS behind it all along...'.

I haven't decided if I will divulge in the second book in the series yet. It has much worse reviews that the first, and I'm not completely convinced that I really like Patterson's writing style yet. It certainly isn't the worst I've ever read - I reserve that honor for Christian historical romance authors. (Gag, barf.)

Final Grade? I give it a B-. It's worth listening to, but not a good start to a whole series. Like I said, still thinking about whether I'll go into the second one or not. In the meantime, I downloaded Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and I can't wait to get it started.

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