Book Review: Killer Image

Killer Image by Wendy TysonFile under: don’t judge a book by its cover. The copy I read has a stylized fashion-plate drawing on the cover, so I was expecting a fluffy, frivolous “mystery” in which the burning question is less whodunit and more will she get the guy. Instead, KILLER IMAGE is a relatively dark murder mystery, full of plot twists and secrets.

As a main character, Alison Campbell is interestingly flawed. The secondary characters are nicely fleshed out, although they did seem a bit more like caricatures than actual people at times. Take, for example, the paraplegic brother of Alison’s assistant, who – after years of reading and TV but no actual detective training – manages to not only solve the case but is subsequently hired to consult for the police department. Or the ghost of patients past who has haunted Alison throughout the story who turns out to have (confusingly) died in a car crash (rather than in some sort of brothel-related accident, as Alison had always supposed), leaving behind a doppelgänger daughter with Alison’s name. Such details took away from the story rather than enhancing it, because, even though it would be nice to think so, things rarely end wrapped up with a neat little bow. But the main story arc is satisfying and the conclusion took shape in a strong and believable way. I especially loved the bit at the end where Alison’s abandoned clients swooped in and saved the day. (Okay, that part might not have been so believable…but it was fun.)

Book Review: Sideshow of Merit

Sideshow of MeritYou know that thing where an author interrupts the past tense narrative to say something like “little did I know how important that choice was” or something similar? It’s supposed to pique the reader’s interest, to make you want to know why that choice, which maybe otherwise might have just been logged as a thing that happened, was a Thing That Happened. It’s a useful trope.

When used sparingly, that is.

I’m willing to overlook the random formatting problems (I got my copy of Sideshow of Merit from Netgalley, after all, so I’m sure the final release will actually use paragraph breaks) and a certain amount of stylistic inconsistency, but after the tenth time the narrator broke tense I just started to get annoyed. I get it. Things happened. Choices were made. Some of them will impact things about which I have not yet been told. That’s sort of the point of a story.

Don’t get me wrong: the book wasn’t bad. The pacing was okay, and the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading. I didn’t really like the main character, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mostly I just felt like I’d have liked to be more immersed in the story without the omnipresent author pulling me out of it. In a way, I guess, that’s a compliment to the book.