Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Snakes (Jones) and The Perfect Fraud (LaCorte): Two Very Different Books, Two Very Different Reviews

Two very different books...

A road trip, a mini-break. That was the plan when young marrieds Bea (psychotherapist) and Dan (artist at heart, estate agent in every day) leave London for the countryside. The first stop, a crumbling old hotel being run by Bea's brother, Alex. Adding to the cast - and moving from a leisurely stroll w a touch of family drama to full-on trauma - Bea's parents arrive carrying the scent of wealth and secrets.

More would require spoiler tags. It shifts, even after mom and dad join the scene, from a slow study of characters to a study in class to a...well, busier? just more-er?...tale.

I liked the first half more than the second. But, throughout (well, the last pages...let's just forget those...) there's enough there to chew on for a reader who very much favors character over plot.

3.5 of 5. But rounded up because there's something that lurks beyond it. And a thank you to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for an always honest review.

PS Yes, there are snakes. Real and metaphorical, both

Claire is not a psychic...though only the reader and her longtime boyfriend Cal are in on that secret. Since the gift runs through her family, her career path was...well, preordained...and she's working as a psychic in Sedona when a family emergency brings her back home, stepping away from an increasingly complex relationship with Cal and back into a complex relationship with her mom.

Claire crosses paths with Rena, a mother making her own crosscountry journey searching for answers. Rena's young daughter, Stephanie is very ill and Rena is running out of options. Knowing no one and with only the followers of her blog for company -- Rena's relationship with Stephanie's dad collapsed under the pressure, plus he needs to keep his east coast-based and the insurance that comes with it -- Rena moves Stephanie to Arizona, pinning her hopes on a specialist there.

I fully expected this to be closer to a beach read than a work of great literature. There's  nothing wrong with that and I can enjoy the mental equivalent of diner chow. But this just didn't do much for me.  I didn't really connect with any of the characters or feel invested in the story. I had to keep looking while I wrote this review to avoid mixing up the protagonists' names. And I didn't feel anything much in the way of suspense.  Two of five stars...because it isn't horribly written but I just didn't care.

And, regardless,  thank you to the publisher for the advance copy...after all, my good reviews are meaningless in the absence of the opposite to show that they truly don't dictate the "results" of my review!