12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
My book club's choice for May was The Fault Tree, by Louise Ure. We choose books by a different method each month, and this month we decided to read a mystery featuring a person with a disability. This was based on a discussion we'd had about classic TV mysteries, which led to a discussion of Ironsides, which led to a discussion of people with disabilities as featured in mysteries...which led us to The Fault Tree.
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.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
When Louise Ure's first Arizona mystery, Forcing Amaryllis, debuted in June 2005, I was impressed with the compelling story and the stunning cover. It went on to win the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Award for Best First Novel.
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.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
B. G. Ritts
- Published on Amazon.com
Louise Ure captures an honest humanity in her writing. The characters and place are so alive in THE FAULT TREE. When you're 'with' Cadence, the protagonist, it's like talking with a best friend about the stuff you don't normally discuss with others. It's akin to being inside someone's head. That name also goes wonderfully well with the rhythm of the author's prose.
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Theresa de Valence
- Published on Amazon.com
THE FAULT TREE is an especially good book, one of the best I've read in the past year. Louise Ure's use of language makes you stop and reread the last sentence or two. Often. She builds word structures which swirl about your mouth like chocolate-the flavours burst-the shock makes you feel as though you'd been asleep. You eye the words with a new kind of respect. By the time you're well into the book, you're in love with the wordmaster.
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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In Tucson, Arizona, Cadence Moran is a highly regarded auto mechanic in spite of her being blind. Her acute sense of hearing is so fine tuned she can hear car trouble. However although she has adapted physically, she has never forgiven herself for her part in the accident that cost her sight and killed her toddler niece.
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.