Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Darker Place and Sutter's Cross

Just book reviews tonight.

A Darker Place by Laurie R. King is a fabulous suspense book. Many authors who write different series use the same pacing or styling in their writing, so I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I've read all of King's Mary Reilly books, so I was expecting something similar. This was entirely different, but in a good way. Anne Waverly helps the FBI in situations with religious groups that are beyond their scope. After suffering the loss of her own family, she has the compassion and skill to help others, but two children inside The Change make everything personal for her again. The suspense started so slowly, it paralleled the slow way Anne/Ana came to join The Change in the book. As she circled them slowly, getting to know them, so the writing also crept up slowly in tempo. By the end of the book, the pacing was so quick I literally gasped on the last page. Another wonderful thing about King's writing are the minutiae of the subject that she's discussing. Whatever she writes about, she's studied thoroughly, and she passes clever tidbits along to the reader. In this book, I learned about alchemy and the psychological ramifications of hostage negotiation! I highly recommend this book to any suspense fan.

Sutter's Cross by W. Dale Cramer is a lyrically crafted book. It's Cramer's debut novel, and it truly shines. Harley shows up in town at the church picnic lunch wearing another man's pants and quickly saves an elderly woman from choking. From this auspicious beginning, people in town quickly line up either for him or against him. At first I was concerned the book would be too similar to Joshua, but this book is entirely different and certainly stands on its own merits. Cramer does a wonderful job of characterization, although Orde seems a bit stereotypical. The stories of Web, Eddy & Marcus, and Jake & Harley come together with such a clash that even Web's change becomes believable. The scene of prayer in the church brought tears to my eyes, and the scene of Marcus with the fireflies stands as one of the best I've ever read in fiction: miraculous and moving. Cramer's story is all the more moving for not tying everything up with a neat bow at the end.

It's been a long weekend with not enough sleep. Mia's taking well to potty-training, hallelujah! More reviews tomorrow.