The Fault Tree Hardcover – Jan 8 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Shamus-winner Ure's deeply compelling and original protagonist falls just short of keeping her intricate second mystery afloat. Cadence Moran, a blind auto mechanic in Tucson, Ariz., has an uncanny ability to pinpoint engine problems by sound. Her skill soon becomes a key element in solving a series of gruesome murders. The tale of how Cadence was blinded is delicately revealed in tiny pieces, satisfying curiosity without slowing development. A complex but credible plot supported by adroit pacing keeps readers guessing through the first two-thirds of the novel, but Ure reveals the killers' identities while police are still chasing dead ends, destroying the tension. The clichéd, Hollywood-style action scenes at the very end stretch believability to the breaking point. When Ure (Forcing Amaryllis) can develop conclusions that do justice to her meticulously drawn characters and settings, she'll be a force to be reckoned with. (Jan.)
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"Heart-stopping suspense that builds to a crescendo and well-defined characters make this a top-notch mystery. Readers looking for an author similar to the late Barbara Seranella will find this a sure bet. Highly recommended for all collections." Library Journal
"...alternates first-person and third-person narratives with unusual dexterity, is by turns an accomplished procedural, an acute study of a fiercely independent heroine and a nail-biting suspenser." - Kirkus, starred review
"An original and gripping work, more proof--as if any was needed--that Louise Ure is an exciting new voice in the mystery field. And its nail-bitting suspense is balanced with a thoughtful, nuanced view of where blame truly begins. Cadence is an extraordinary character and Ure's ability to capture her world is nothing less than remarkable." --Laura Lippman, award-winning author of TO THE POWER OF THREE
"Louise Ure’s skillfully written second novel (after the Shamus Award-winning FORCING AMARYLLIS) is a suspenseful tour de force. It has everything a reader could want: Fascinating and brilliantly crafted characters, blistering pacing, and a story that keeps you in white-knuckle mode till the very end. THE FAULT TREE is another winner." --J.D. Rhoades, author of THE DEVIL’S RIGHT HAND, GOOD DAY IN HELL, and SAFE AND SOUND
"Ure is a writer of exquisite precision and incendiary talent. FAULT TREE is a knockout on all fronts: so rich in voice and suspense that I guarantee it will blow your doors off." --Cornelia Read, author of A FIELD OF DARKNESS
"Daring and powerful with a character so unique - you won't believe your eyes." --Elaine Flinn, Barry Award winning author of the Molly Doyle Mysteries
"A blind, female auto mechanic? Louise Ure pulls it off. THE FAULT TREE is a suspense-laden, page-turner that is also full of humanity. I recommend it to anyone looking for a fast and satisfying read." --Barbara Seranella, creator of the Munch Mancini Series
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Cadence Moran lost her sight in a tragic accident (details of which are revealed little by little throughout the book), but her finely tuned ear and independent spirit allow her to earn a living as an auto mechanic. The setting is the blazing hot city of Tucson, Arizona, where Cadence lives alone and avoids her alcoholic mother. However, Cadence is not a loner at all--she does have relationships and friends, who are the book's cast members. The plot is based on a misunderstanding. A woman is murdered and the killer believes that Cadence is a witness and must therefore be eliminated. Because Cadence is so independent, however, the killer doesn't realize that Cadence is blind and couldn't possibly have seen anything.
The book, while labeled "A Mystery" on its cover, is really a mixture of a mystery (though we do find out the murderer's identity quite a bit before the end of the book) and a sort of "damsel in distress" suspense novel along the lines of Mary Higgins Clark. While the cops are chasing leads and trying to figure out who's stalking Cadence, the heroine is busy protecting herself from the stalker.
We had a very lively discussion about this book, and if you read it you will see why. Our overall conclusion was that we had rarely read a book where the author did so many things WELL and so many things POORLY.
As a novel, we felt it really succeeded in drawing a superb main character and supporting cast; and its setting is meticulously well realized (you can feel yourself sweating as Ure describes the streets of Tucson). Cadence Moran is fully realized and complicated, but she is the narrator of only about a third of the book. Alternating chapters are told in third-person viewpoint from other perspectives, including those of the villain and the investigating cops. We tend to like shifting viewpoints, and we thought that was very well handled here.
In addition, the pacing is really excellent--it's hard to put the book down once you get past a certain point. And the author avoids the easy answers, concluding her story well but without oversimplifying it. In addition, there are some complications to the mystery where innocent people are hurt, which we felt added another unique dimension and twist to the book.
However, as a mystery, THE FAULT TREE is really very flawed, and this is where we scratched our heads. There are at least half a dozen occasions in the book where smart people--including the quite smart heroine--act in ways that defy all human comprehension. It's hard to go into details without spoilers, but all the characters do incredibly stupid things--in one chapter, worrying about their safety, and then in the next chapter making decisions that would jeopardize not only their own safety but also that of the people they love.
The villains, too, seem to be drawn out of the Oliver Stone film NATURAL BORN KILLERS; and their motivation makes little sense, unless you think of their sole motivation being the desire to propel the story. They were probably the dumbest criminals in the history of crime fiction; and this is despite the fact that Ure points out on several occasions that neither one of them is dumb (at least academically).
There are coincidences galore, too--including a found object in an exceedingly improbable place that leads to a highly unlikely plot turn in the last 10 pages. The book's drawn-out climax strains believability to the breaking point...If this were a film, the audience would be glued to their seats, and then immediately afterwards say, "That was completely ridiculous."
In the end, though, we did enjoy the book--probably more at the beginning, and more for the sake of the heroine, than for the outlandish story. I realized that I personally have recommended the book several times, but always with a caveat. Overall our feeling was that we would give future titles by this author a look because she really knows how to get your blood racing, and she knows how to tell a story. If only that story could be a little more grounded in reality.
The Fault Tree, the second book in Ure's Arizona trilogy, was just released, and it won't disappoint any of her fans. Hopefully, it will introduce a whole new audience to this talented author.
Cadence Moran is thirty-one, and an auto mechanic who works nights at Walt's Auto Shop in Tucson. Walking home from work one night, she hears a scream, laughter, and a car tear away. Cadence has just heard the end of a murder. Although Cadence is a witness, she's blind, and can only depend on her other senses to tell the police what she "knows".
Cadence is reluctant to get involved. Eight years earlier, she was the driver in the accident that blinded her, and killed her niece. She's lived with her blindness, and her blame every since. One of the officers on the case is reluctant to believe her, but Detective Dupree has a feeling that Cadence is reliable.
As the police blindly search for killers who seem to have no connection to the victim, the killers are searching for Cadence. She's suddenly a target, a witness to a crime that the killers don't realize she never actually saw. Ure increases the tension, telling the story of Cadence's fear and her clues, the police investigation, and the killers' attempt to eliminate any witnesses. Cadence's clues lead the police in the wrong direction, while the killers make serious mistakes. The three storylines increase the suspense, driving the three groups together.
Louise Ure has written a powerful story of disfunctional families, blame, and responsibility. It's a mystery that starts on a somber, but riveting, note. "At the end, there was so much blame to spread around that we could all have taken a few shovelfuls home and rolled around in it like pigs in stink." The rest of The Fault Tree captures the reader, and doesn't let you go until the final sentence.
It's early in the year to predict another award winner, but I predict that Ure's The Fault Tree will once again vie for the mystery awards. Readers interested in a fascinating character, or one of the best mysteries you'll read in 2008, should pick this one up.
I found the idea of a blind woman working on cars to be most intriguing (but then, some production workers at facilities that manufacture light sensitive products are required to work in the dark). The only quibble I have is Cadence dwells a bit on things that have happened in her past -- and I probably don't want to feel guilty myself.
The gift Cadence receives at book's end leaves you with a comfortable sense of "all is right with the world" and some things should just be.
This is Ms. Ure's second book. I have thoroughly enjoyed both, and she is on my list of must reads. I hope you'll agree.
But it isn't just the clever words which keep you there.
I don't read book covers, book flaps or the middle of most book reviews because I don't want to know anything about the characters or the plot-I think the author deserves a blank page with which to entice me into her story. THE FAULT TREE proves the point of this premise: when it's well done, it's magnificent. Within a few paragraphs I was fooled one way and then another, as the author introduced me to the protagonist.
THE FAULT TREE has a fine protagonist: acute, sympathetic and determined-and plenty of angst. Louise Ure's fine writing exposes the protagonist's history, along with current storylines, laying out the threads of each tale in long simple strands, then she weaves them into a tapestry rich with colourful motivation, patterns of behaviour, blame and resolution.
THE FAULT TREE is not too cozy. Cozy mystery readers don't want to be upset by misfortune falling on people they care about-they want to know this to be true before they start reading. However, a good tale is one which keeps you on the edge of your seat worrying about the safety of people you just met. You will worry about dangers to the protagonist and the people close by.
THE FAULT TREE is not too dark. People do die senselessly (after all it is crime fiction) but the story isn't gruesome. Most importantly, the reader doesn't feel ashamed to be human.
THE FAULT TREE is just right.
Theresa de Valence, Mystery Fiction Reviewer
The blind mechanic never expected her uncanny skill with sound would involve her in a serial killer case, but it does as a speeding vehicle almost kills her. Apparently the driver was fleeing a crime scene after killing Cadence's elderly neighbor. Her sonar skill makes her a reliable witness to ending this horrific murder spree.
THE FAULT TREE is for the most part an interesting police procedural starring a unique witness. Cadence is a terrific protagonist and the insertion of the tragic accident is done over the course of the story line as a series of timely look backs so it enhances the plot rather than decelerates it. The story line is excellent until the climax, which seems unlikely. Still fans will enjoy this fascinating Arizona cat and mouse thriller as Louise Ure provides a heroine who is the cheese as the cops chase after killer rodents.