Friday, November 16, 2012

Slow 'n' Steady Reader -- Buried on Avenue B (de Jonge) & The Orchadist (Coplin)

I confess....I feel like a slowpoke lately, and I don't recall ever letting my "to read" pile getting over two books, but I'm still reading when my mind beats out my body and lets me focus.

A Harper read (free in exchange for an honest review) and another venture into detective/mystery lit.  I do enjoy them from time t time, but will admit to being a bit of a harder sell than some since it isn't my go-to genre.  This is apparently the second in a series, although (as I find common and a benefit to the genre) it isn't at all a drawback to have missed the first installment.  The main character is a flawed female detective with a focus on murder investigations.  A rumor leads her to dig up part of a community garden, to the chagrin of leadership in her squad, and the unexpected result sends her hunting not only a killer but an unidentified victim.

This sits between a 2 and a 2.5 star read (of 5).  I found myself intrigued about the victim but the story just dragged and got a bit too confused at times.  There were also too many coincidences, a definite personal pet peeve.  At times I found the detective character interesting but then she'd lose my interest and I felt like there were elements that got dropped.  I picked in up with interest in the early-going but was more than ready for it to end. 
Sometimes it is dangerous for a book to sit in my pile a bit, especially one that interests me.  Too much expectation has hurt many a book or a movie.  This one (also from Harper, copy in exchange for an honest review), however, stood up to my expectation and earned a solid 4.5 stars that I'm happy to round up.

Talmadge has lived alone since losing both his mother and sister by the time he was in his mid-teens.  He lives on a vast orchard, in the Pacific Northwest near the turn of the twentieth century.  His life takes a turn when he spots two young teens, both very pregnant, who first steal a couple apples at market and later begin to live on his land.  Slowly, Talmadge gains their trust and becomes involved in their world including their flight from an abusive brothel owner with a special interest in one of the girls.  As is the case with some books, I'm hesitant to say much more since it is a wonderful story to watch unfold.

I loved this book.  It is gives a wonderful set of characters including Talmadge, the girls, a Native American mute, and an herbalist/midwife.  Additionally, it is a novel of place, with a great sense of both time and location.  The language is lovely and kept me held throughout.  The only hesitation on the last half-star is that I felt unsure about some of the turns it took in the latter part....not a true complaint, and I wouldn't say it is out of character, but it still just felt a bit "off" to me.  I think part was that I wanted to focus on a character other than the one who dominated the progress of the late plot. 

Still, a wonderful read.  Recommended for book lovers who love to fall into a setting and the characters that inhabit the fictional world.  Lovely prose.  I'd love to see more but one can feel that eight years that went into it and I'll happily wait for such art. 

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