History was made at this house yesterday when I wrote up and posted my very first AMAZON book review. I was so excited I promptly followed with another! (I’ll post that one on Tuesday.)
I’d like to know how you others feel about the reviews you read on AMAZON. I’ve been checking out some books listed that I’ve read lately — and some I haven’t — and reading the reviews. I’m getting the impression the majority of reviewers just want to complain. Several of Carol Higgins Clark books I’ve read and really liked were trashed right, left and center.
All I can say is, “To each his own.” Some readers like salt, some like sugar, some like lemon and some like bland and some prefer a steady diet of junk food. I have my own likes and dislikes. I read Wuthering Heights because it’s considered a great classic; I considered it a great waste of time–unless you want to read a book that shows you how NOT to be. I’ll admit, it portrays the futility of being a greedy, miserable tyrant. Charles Dickens did much the same thing with Scrooge, but Scrooge got the picture and changed before it was too late, so I found A Christmas Carol very inspiring.
Fellow writer Joel Canfield is a real fan of Raymond Chandler’s Private Eye Marlowe. I like Joel’s protagonist for all the ways he’s NOT like Phillip Marlowe. If you are into mysteries, you may want to check this one out.
Here’s my unabridged review of A LONG HARD LOOK by Joel Canfield:
While I’m not really a mystery reader — and I abhor horror! — I found this book a compelling, fast-paced read and relatively easy on my poor nerves.
This tale echoes Chandler’s writing in that the protagonist is giving you a play-by-play account with only subtle hints of back-story. But in my opinion Canfield’s protagonist is more like “Phillip Marlowe meets Joe-Hardy.” He’s human; he has feelings; he’s rash at times. Unlike Marlowe, who relates cold details — I went here; found this body; shot that guy; too bad — Phil Brennan shares his motives and feelings as he gives the reader a first-hand account of events.
The story starts as Phil, an on-the-wagon not-really-private-eye, to do a small favor for Gil, a sobbing computer technician with a guilty conscience. Or so it seems. Will Phil correct an error on Gil’s computer at work?
Sure. Why not? The task seems simple enough — and the pay is good.
Thus Phil is dragged into involvement with a dysfunctional family by helping Gil — who’s found dead the next day. Phil is soon called on the carpet by Gil’s employer-dad for that favor and threatened with fates worse than death — IF he doesn’t find Gil’s murderer.
Phil meets Gil’s sisters one by one and he falls for one of them. The focus shifts to family dynamics: a long-lost brother (or potential brother-in-law, in this case) meets four “sisters” and finds them spinning in a crazy situation. One is older and more level-headed. One has been a pawn in a strange game. One is a suspect. Did she murder Gil? If not, who did? How can they fix what’s broken here.
As sisters will, they all hen-peck him – one with a stiletto even — and he bears it patiently. But then, in spite of their wise counsel, he tries rattling another bush to see what he can flush out.
He shouldn’t have.
The story has a few spots that could be polished. There’s a lot of dialogue in this book; a few times I had to go back and work my way down to figure out who was talking. Daddy makes a brief appearance in Phil’s office soon after his computer-tech son, an incident that’s never touched on again. For all that his life has been threatened he isn’t too concerned about keeping his door locked.
However, the story is well written. Phil Brennan makes you care about him. When the story’s done you wish him well and would like to know what happens to him next.