Friday, April 12, 2013

Mystery Fans: Do You Read Harlan Coben?

I'm on my second Harlan Coben (audio) book, and I like him--but with reservations.The first was in the Myron Bolitar series, probably somewhere in the middle of it. It was generally entertaining, and it held my interest. But I had how does Win get away with opening fire in the middle of the city? For that matter, how do Myron and Win get away with various forms of violence? And will Myron ever learn to shut up? All those wisecracks......some are funny, but sometimes he'd be better off remaining silent.

The one in my car now is Just One Look. It's not in the Myron Bolitar series. I would have given it high marks until this morning. This morning I was listening to a scene involving a character who is so bored and alienated in her marriage that she enjoys enjoy modeling skimpy lingerie in her window for the creepy misfit next door. (That alone put me off somewhat.) A lot of earlier text (way too much) is devoted to how distanced she and her husband have become to one another.

So in today's scene she is about to do something extremely dangerous at night involving a serial killer. It's a suspenseful premise, and the writing should reflect this. She needs to move quickly in order to accomplish what she wants to do. She runs downstairs, and on her way out she encounters her husband in the kitchen. Bam! End of suspense. The book launches into a lengthy description of how his eyes penetrate her soul, or some such thing, just like they did when they first met. On and on and on, while the serial killer does who knows what. I admit I'm a critical reader, but it was such bad writing. I would be ashamed to bring something like that to my writing group.

Coben also has his characters thinking endlessly in situations where there is not nearly enough time to mull over all the thoughts he attributes to them. I get impatient with this. It makes them seem a little slow-witted at times.

At home I'm reading Dennis Lehane for the first time. No complaints.


Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

I never read mysteries until I discovered P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. I now read them not for the plots, which I don't care that much about, but because they write so well.

Susan said...

I've heard of both of them, of course, but haven't read either. I should, now that you've recommended them. I've been a mystery reader my whole life--since Nancy Drew. :-)

Indigo Bunting said...

I don't often read mysteries. But someone gave me a book of short stories that I quickly decided had been self-published—and I'm right about that. It's not that the stories are bad, but the typos and punctuation are so distracting that I can't truly enjoy them.

Susan said...

Guess they didn't want to pay an editor. Of course you read like an editor, IB. So do I, and so do some others who haven't necessarily worked in the business but who are natural editors. A mixed blessing.

Helen said...

No I don't; and after this post I never shall.

Susan said...

Sorry you'll miss this experience, Helen. :-)