First let me begin by saying: I love Isabel Allende’s books. THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS is one of favorite books ever. EVA LUNA, OF LOVE AND SHADOWS, DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE, PORTRAIT IN SEPIA. You get the idea. So I was thrilled to see she had written a mystery novel – described as “fast-paced” – that takes place in San Francisco (near my old stomping grounds). I got it as an audiobook from my public library.
Wow — what a disappointment. Isabel Allende is an incredible writer. Her attraction for me has always been in the beauty of her language. Her characters are so real and human. Her stories are enthralling.
Not this one. This story had me puzzled right from the beginning. There was WAY TOO MUCH character description and background given. The story is about a serial killer in San Francisco and I felt like I was at about CD 6 before we got a murder (covered in what felt like a few paragraphs). Instead we had this lush, detailed history of our main character (soon to become victim-in-danger-of-being-murdered-by-serial-killer) Indiana Jackson – a woman who was so beautiful, so gifted, so extraordinary, and so not aware of her power over men that she seemed totally unbelievable as she went about her work as a homeopath. Her daughter is the shy and reclusive, but brilliant, Amanda, who spends her time playing an online game called “Ripper” with other teens where they solve murders. Amanda’s father – Indiana’s ex – is luckily a SF homicide cop so that gives everybody access to detailed police information. Amanda’s grandfather is her best friend and plays Ripper, too. When Indiana is finally abducted in about disk 10, Amanda makes it her job to figure out who the killer is and save her mother in time.
THIS PART CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Now, someone who has read this book please tell me: who WAS that killer?? He had like five different names and aliases and he was someone I didn’t even remember from earlier in the novel when we were getting the back story to birth of all those other characters. What??? And all those other people he killed were related to him and his crazy, feral, abused, neglected youth, but why did he want to kill Indiana?? Did she maybe reject him? (I have to say I do struggle with following books while driving sometimes and I can’t really rewind). Also, this was looooong. I just looked it up on Amazon and saw it has over 500 pages. I believe it.
So – in a nutshell – if you want great character descriptions and Allende’s writing, you might like this. If you want a fast-paced thriller, skip this one. My expectations were really high, so that didn’t help.
But Isabel, I still absolutely love your (other) books!
PS – forgot to mention the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini — LOVED his smooth voice!