Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Review: Free Fall in Crimson

Free Fall in Crimson Free Fall in Crimson by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started off liking this 19th book in the Travis McGee series as it quickly delves into solving the mystery of why a guy dying of cancer gets beat to death at highway rest stop. McGee's investigation takes him to a biker bar run by an old war buddy in search of a lead, which he finds. And then he's off to Hollywood and Lyssa Dean, an actress he helped in The Quick Red Fox, to track down the Director and some bikers/actors from a biker-movie. She steers him to Iowa and the set of movie about hot air ballooning. After that it just felt like the energy left the book even though there is a formidable villain. The problem is we mostly hear about this bad ass second-hand, instead of seeing him live an in action. At least until the ending, where he shows up in the flesh. Doesn't have MacDonald's trademark rollercoaster sequence of climactic scenes as do so many of the McGee books. Instead we have a quick confrontation, with a partially recycled device from, I think, Bright Orange for the Shroud, and an older, wiser McGee (not a spoiler) survives again.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Review: Roanleigh

Roanleigh Roanleigh by Gretchen Mockler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Superb gothic suspense novel. Full of atmosphere, mystery, and tension. At the beginning, Roan is an amnesiac invalid being cared for by her mother, brother, and family nurse. But she knows something is off with the narrative they are spinning. So she quits taking the pills the nurse has been pushing. Soon snippets of memory return and she is certain that she is not Roan. She knows she is someone else, just not who else she might be. The writing craft is so good that I couldn't put the book down after that rolling start. It is packed with concrete details that amp up the moods. The dialog seems always strewn with subtext. And Roan's actions and interactions are fueled by her at any means approach. All of which makes this a virtual master class in how to write a gothic novel. My research has turned up no other books or any other information on the author Gretchen Mockler. The novel seems too good to have been a one off, so I suspect it might be a pseudonym of some other well-known gothic writer, but maybe not.

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