Monday, June 6, 2011

Review - The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan NovelThe Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel

Even a brief glance at the back of the book will tell you that this novella (William Morrow, 158p, Isbn-006193836X) starts out as a modern-day retelling of the classic Hitchcock film, "Rear Window". Instead of a broken-footed James Stewart peeking into the varied lives of neighbors from the vantage point of his window, here we have a highly pregnant Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan whose doctor-ordered bed rest leads her to watch with interest the goings-on in a nearby park where her eye is caught first by a dog and then its owner, a woman dressed in a green raincoat. A few days later, the bored detective's curiosity is further piqued when she spots the dog running through the park, quite owner-less.

With the help of her friend and sometimes assistant, Whitney (a role played glamorously by Grace Kelly in the movie) and others, Tess launches an avid bedside investigation into the disappearance of the dog's owner whom, apparently, no one else has missed. That leads her to a husband who's not interested in getting the dog back and moreover, who refuses to verify his wife's whereabouts. And if that were not enough, he becomes the prime suspect when Tess begins to uncover dead wives in his past. Things take a further quirky turn when, during the course of her Tess-propelled investigation, Whitney shows signs of falling for the guilty-looking husband.

Before reading this novella, I had no idea about the existence of Tess Monaghan in the pages of a book. I'm now going to make sure I read all the books in the series featuring this intrepid detective and learn more about the (hopefully ongoing antics of the) diverting characters featured in this book.

Click "Read more" to reveal some secrets

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review - Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness by Tilly Bagshawe

Sidney Sheldon's After the DarknessSynopsis from the Back of the Book -

What happens when the woman who has everything loses everything . . . and the man who has nothing realizes he has nothing to lose?

The young, naive wife of a multi-billionaire financial superstar, Grace Brookstein's life is the stuff of fantasy. In New York, Lenny Brookstein is the King of the Wall Street social scene, both liked and respected in the worlds of high finance and high society.

Then one day Lenny vanishes, his yacht discovered abandoned far out at sea. The police believe his death was no accident, that his involvement in a spectacular financial fraud was about to be exposed to the world. But Grace can't accept the terrible allegations now coming to light, and she will learn the truth . . . even if that truth destroys her.

***

First flaw - Why is Sidney Sheldon's name added to this book? I don't know. I searched cover to cover, but could find no explanation for it. He's no longer alive and I highly doubt he contributed anything to this story.

Second biggest flaw - By adding Sheldon's name and then delivering a story as haphazard as this with no sizzle, disappointing characters and loopholes the size of massive sinkholes, the book is doomed from the start.

Yes, as you can glean from this, I'm a Sheldon fan and his were some of the earliest books I read as an adult. More importantly, I like them to this day. They may not be sophisticated from today's perspective, but they were the best of their time (proof is in the novels still being published with his name). They had memorable characters, storylines and yes, even with some loopholes, managed to retain their charm and overall entertain. I just can't say the same of Tilly Bagshawe's After the Darkness (Harper, 401p, Isbn-0061728314).

I'm sorry to say I did manage to ultimately finish this book. The word "outraged" doesn't begin to cover what I think of the fact that one of my favorite author's name has been added to such a book. So, if you're a Sidney Sheldon fan, avoid this book at all costs. As for the rest of you, read at your own risk.

Spoilers ahead!! Click the "Read more >>" button to reveal some secrets