4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I won a copy of City of Secrets through Goodreads Firstreads.
Excellent sense of the time period; Some nice historic detail; Original plot
HIGH F-word count; Writer uses loads of sentence fragments; Too much time spent on smoking; 2nd in Series, don't read out of order
Hard-boiled, foul (FOUL)-mouthed, and foul tempered, Miranda Corbie is a former prostitute turned private investigator. She's also a serious chain-smoker who can't make up her mind if she's really trying to quit or not (and a war vet, and the child of an alcoholic abusive father and an absentee mother, and struggling with love lost - all just a little much for me).
This book was a struggle for me honestly. The plot is original, and the writer does a good job with historic detail. But, even though this is hard-boiled noir fiction, I'm pretty sure the F-word usage is high for the time period, and it's used in a modern way, as having all kinds of uses and meanings. Also, I cannot count the number of times sentences were wasted describing lighting up or putting out a "stick". Honestly, every time Miranda lights a cigarette, we get two sentences about it; every time we have to know where she pulled the cigarette from, what she lit it with, what brand the lighter was or what name was on the matchbook, if she lit it herself, or if a man held the light for her, if he struck the match with his thumb, or if she held his hands steady as she lit up. Putting out a cigarette required a little less detail, but not much... And unfortunately, Miranda would light up a cigarette, then literally five sentences or less later, put it out - honestly I don't know how anyone smokes that fast! Then five sentences later her hands were trembling cause she needed another cigarette - so she'd light up again. At the points where she decided maybe she was trying to quit smoking, we get a lot of detail about popping lifesavers instead - where she bought them, how many rolls were in her purse, what flavor they were, and how many she popped in her mouth, and how they just made her want a cigarette more.
I cannot even begin to think how many pages shorter this book would have been if you took out all the references to lighting up and putting out cigarettes - no exaggeration.
I had trouble with the constant use of sentence fragments. At places it made sense. It set the scene in flashes, especially the murder scenes, giving it almost a graphic novel kind of feel. But even as a writing style, it isn't consistent. The sentence fragment stuff is much more prevalent in the first half than the second half. The ones that got me most were things like: "Trembling all over. Rubbed his face into his blue work shirt, mouth contorted, tears on weathered skin.", and "Duggan, sad-faced siamang, long hairy arms helpless, large hands, covered in scars, weak, white, empty. Flare of energy when he met her eyes. Recognition."
The middle of the story felt kind of empty, but I really got into the last 100 pages or so. The plot picked up, the profanity dropped off significantly, and the sentence fragment writing style slacked off. If the smoking descriptions and F-words were cropped down significantly, and the middle of the story made a little more concise, I would have really liked this book. It would have been better as a shorter, more concise story - maybe 200 pages as opposed to 290.