By Kathleen Lopez
Sheriff Martin Shuller returns home after solving a murder in a neighboring town. Soon, he’s involved in a new romance…and a new murder.
That’s pretty much it. About half and half between the murder mystery and the developing romance. However, there really isn’t any ‘mystery’. The killer is known and the procedural part is fairly easy.
Martin Shuller: sheriff, 6’1”, has a sister and a brother
Jeanie Jacobs: firehouse dispatcher, has a sister, drives a pickup
Vivian Nash: 67, widow
Levi Swanson: auto mechanic, drives a Mustang, adopted as a child, played football in high school, parents dead
Pretty pat characters. Martin’s reaction’s to the murder are just a bit unbelievable. He just came off of a gruesome murder and now this one, even though it’s a close friend who is the victim, really rocks him. Maybe part of it has to do with the ending, but the man is a cop for heaven’s sake.
Tag lines that can’t be tag lines. Error of POV in one tag line: “Take your time, Viv,” the shadow yelled back, hearing another clank of the knocker as he released it.–The POV starts with Vivian in the scene. This tag line shows the POV from the person on the other side of the door. It’s too abrupt a change if that is what is meant and the hearing of the knocker is unimportant anyway.
Two pieces of dialogue with the same person speaking do not need two separate tag lines if they’re in the same paragraph of dialogue. (“Looks like we can make it to the car before the heavy stuff hits,” he said. “Wanna make a break for it?” he said nodding to Levi.) In this instance, the second tag line isn’t needed.
A lot of misspelled words or wrong words. (Sometimes the words should be past tense but are present tense or needed an ‘ed’.) (A humorous misspell was the sentence in a piece of dialogue that Levi said while telling a story about when he was playing in the hay barn as a child: “I was fighting some epic battle or something; ducting and jumping between the stacks.” Now, I assume he was ducking between the stacks rather than putting in ventilation pipes. Another is that Shuller ‘…kept taking one or two peaks out the window.’ One that confused me was: ‘…the paramedics flacked her, and gingerly lifted her from the floor.’) (‘Inhale’ is not a noun. Inhalation is the noun.)
An instance or three of profanity. Not much, though. Grammar problems.
About a third of the way through, there was an abrupt scene change and an abrupt POV change that threw me.
Time problems: In one chapter Shuller and Jeanie are at a movie at the beginning of the film. At the same time, Levi is shown breaking into a house and the owner pulls a gun on him. The next scene is after the movie and Shuller and Jeanie leave the theatre. The next scene picks up with Levi, still with a gun on him. Really? The house owner and Levi both stood there for at least an hour and a half?
In one scene, Shuller see cops drive over to the murder victim’s house. In the next scene, a friend of the victim’s discovers the body and calls the police. (Yes, I’ve seen this type of writing done before, but here I don’t think it works.)
Except for the beginning of the book, where Shuller has solved a crime (happens before the story begins but mentioned at the beginning), nearly half the book goes by before there is any real action. Long set up scenes. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the ‘corpse on page two’ idea, but I remember another book written by a prolific series writer that I stopped reading (and never read her again) when the body didn’t show up until page 75.
In general the writing could have been a lot tighter. There are some sentences that, while not technically incorrect, just aren’t very smooth. Usually this is because of repetitious words. (Too many ‘headed over’ and ‘head out’ phrases, and ‘the boys’ in reference to both the police investigators and the firehouse crew.)
I realize that automobiles often are considered ‘female’, even muscle cars. That’s fine, but when the car is referred to as ‘her’ instead of ‘it’, the reader may be confused, especially if used in the same paragraph as when the driver of the car passed ‘her house’. I know that the ‘her’ is not referring to the car’s house but a person’s. However, the constant word ‘her’ is one of those tightening up areas needed.
There is an interesting twist at the end, but I don’t think there were enough clues to let the reader be truly shocked, so I think it ends up being too pat. Plus, with everything else wrong with this book, the twist can’t raise the rank above: