Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Review by Maggie:

Cover of snow really grabs you in the beginning; it starts with the suicide of Nora Hamilton’s beloved husband Brendan. He leaves no note and it is a mystery why he would commit such an act with such a happy and fulfilled life. Nora is a home restorer and Brendan was a policeman and they seemed to have it all.  Although as the story goes along it is amazing how little Nora really knew her husband or his family. It is set in a small town in the Adirondacks and one really feels the cold and the snow. She establishes an overall feeling of menace----one keeps reading to see what criminal activity is afoot in the small town. Many quirky characters are introduced that seem to have evil motivations but they do not move the story along since there is minimal character development.

By the time I was about half way through I had lost interest as Nora was not especially likeable and the author seemed to be filling the narrative with unnecessary side trips. However, I did finish and found the ending unsatisfying. Milchman sets us up to feel much more was happening in this town and corruption aplenty and it was not the case. This novel is a debut and I think the author is off to a good start but this for me was a ‘thriller that did not thrill’.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Best of Youth by Michael Dahlie

Review by Maggie:

Henry Lang is a rich young man and a fine person but in spite of his money he does not have self confidence. He does not fit in with the Brooklyn post-grad crowd.  He has no luck with females and does not have male friends. Henry contributes a large sum of money to a start up magazine Suckerhead in the hope he will be one of the gang and the magazine will publish his short stories. Such is not the case his short stories are rejected by the magazine by form letter. 

 He is interested romantically in his fourth cousin but she does not return his feelings. Henry spends lots of time with Abby and visits her rich aunt at her Vermont farm. He loses visiting privileges when he is responsible for killing a herd of fancy goats worth at least a million dollars. Things do not go smoothly for Henry.

After many rejections from literary magazines he is happy enough to take a ghost writing project with an ironclad contract for silence for movie star Jonathan Kipling. However, when the book becomes a huge seller and everyone thinks the star is a wonderful writer Henry is upset as Jonathan is a dreadful writer and a sleazy person to boot. Jonathan took  advantage of Henry’s beloved cousin Abby and gets her pregnant and then abandons her-----Henry is nothing if not loyal as a way of getting back at Kipling’s caddish behavior  he tells the press he is the ghostwriter behind the Kipling book. Naturally he is sued and loses most of his fortune-----however, and this would only be true in novels---Henry feels okay once he learns that Kipling was sued by Abbie and she now has most of Henry’s money lost in the contract dispute. It all sounds rather boring but Michael Dahlie is a very good writer one enjoys the read and wants to see what happens with the hapless Henry.