Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Recent Reading 4

Bad Blood by John Sandford

I've finally caught up and read all the Virgil Flowers novels. Part of what makes them great reads is the way the chapters are subdivided into chunks a few paragraphs long. You finish one and think, "Okay, just one more." Then you read the next, and the next, and pretty soon it's deep into the night and the book is done. The other great part is Virgil. He's fun, smart, and just rebellious enough to keep things interesting without making him cartoonish.

Bad Blood has all those traits which made the previous entries fun, including a pulse-pounding shoot-out, but the subject matter is one that even makes crime and mystery buffs recoil: Virgil is investigating murders related to the sexual abuse of children in a cult. That makes it hard to have as much fun as with the other novels, but Sandford ultimately pulls it off, mostly by following that most Elmorian of Elmore Leonard's maxims: leave out the parts readers tend to gloss over. The action unfolds crisply, and the shoot-out this time is just electric.

A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams

I read this after I read the second novel of the series, A Deadly Cliche, so I had the curious experience of being reminded of characters I only knew from things that hadn't happened to them yet. I read it with the later book handy so I could flip through it and, in effect, get things in order.

Between reading the second novel and this one, Ellery mentioned something on her Facebook page about some people not liking the series' protagonist, Olivia. Going in I wondered what they might be reacting to, since in reading A Deadly Cliche I found Olivia willful but not in a bad way. In A Killer Plot, she is introduced in an unflattering way by townspeople gossiping about her, and Olivia has a bit of a fit of pique in a store, so I'm guessing that some readers may have taken too much stock in that and not given the character a fair shake afterward. I find Olivia to be a challenging character, not unlikeable, but challenging in that she's very guarded, and Adams lets her be guarded even to readers at first. But she's a rich character and worth the wait.

Speaking of, now that I'm caught up on both these series, I'm going to have to wait for new installments! Oh well, next time I'll be writing about another series I'm knee-deep in: the Joe Pickett novels by C.J. Box.

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