Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day of the Dead

I finished my latest audio book this morning on the way into work. It was my first book ever by J.A. Jance and is called, Day of the Dead. I didn't know this when I picked it off the library shelves but it is the third book in a mystery series involving an Indian reservation in Arizona. That happens quite a bit for me when I pick up an audio book from the library...I don't have the ability to research to see if it is part of a series. But usually, with mysteries it doesn't matter too much.

JA Jance, on her own website, defines the difference between a "mystery" novel and a "thriller" novel. She says in a mystery, you don't know the identity of the bad guy(s) or whodunnit until the end and the joy is in solving the mystery. In a thriller, however, the reader knows who the bad guy(s) is/are up front, even if the main characters doesn't. This particular novel is billed as a thriller and, indeed, we readers get to see whodunnit near the beginning so I guess it fulfills her definition. In my mind though, a "thriller" also provides "thrills" and this novel just didn't do it for me.

Apparently I am not alone in that opinion as most reviewers tend to classify this one as one of the lesser liked novels by JA Jance. She seems to have a devoted following of fans who really love her tremendous output but they say everybody has a bad book now and then and this one is one of hers. The story itself is OK and I really like the overall premise of having the TLC (The Last Chance) as a privately funded organization that looks into unsolved crimes...cold cases...that the police force just doesn't have time or resources to look into. And I liked the protagonist, a retired sheriff named Brandon Walker as he takes on the case for the TLC. But the balance between the mystery solving, the thriller aspects of the bad guys, and the subplots about the various members and relatives of the cold case murder victim was way to heavily weighted towards the subplots. The bad guys, a husband and wife team of sexual predators/perverts, seemed to me to be cardboard cutouts of a 1970s era TV show crime drama...i.e. very one dimensional and not at all the monsters they should have been. There were a couple of scenes that were fairly graphic sexually and that seems to have turned off many of Ms Jance's devoted followers..apparently she doesn't do much of that in most of her books.

I probably owe it myself to try one of her other books, in one of her other series but at this point I am not anxious to do so. So many books out there and I'm not getting any younger...

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire