Death of a Department Chair by Lynn C. Miller
If I recall correctly, this was an actual remainder table book, which I picked up because it was a mystery set at a university, and thus I thought it might be amusing. It seemed apropos to read it when I finished my comps.
Not the worst book I’ve ever read, but otherwise this review is pretty accurate. It was a slog. I did finish it, by reading one chapter at a time. It suffered from many, many beginning writer problems. The characters were introduced with police blotter descriptions that were supposed to show how different they were, when in fact, they were indistinguishable aside from names–I did a lot of “who?” *flip, flip, flip* “ohh.”
Also not a fan of the experimental pov switches. A better writer might have been able to make this work, but it did not work here. The “journal entries” were totally unrealistic. I could continue, but you get the idea.
Miller is a theater professor, which helps explain some of the book’s issues (especially the lack of characterization). The story may have worked better as a play, since actors would be able to add nuance to the characters.
For balance, here is a more positive take.
The Line Painter by Claire Cameron
This one came from the VPL Book Sale this spring. Here’s proof:
I picked it up because I remembered Cameron’s name from Bookninja (moment of silence), where she was a contributor. Ok, weirdly, as I go to Bookninja to get the link, I see that the last thing posted before its demise was this:
Do you think that might have influenced my purchase? I think it did! Anyhow, here’s the book’s page on Cameron’s website, with description, excerpt, video interview, and links to reviews. (Yeesh, she’s making this too easy ;))
I’d describe The Line Painter as being very movie-like. It’s focused: there are just a few key characters, a few settings. Minimalist, in a good way (you’re focused on what’s happening, not keeping track of who’s who). It’s suspenseful, but not overly plotty. The main story plays out over a few days, but with flashbacks to fill in the backstory.
I read it while visiting my family in the Okanagan in July. It actually turned out to the be the perfect read. I read it over several nights of before-bed reading and finished it within the week (just in time to go back to comps reading—gah, let’s not dredge that up ;)). That The Line Painter was able to grab and hold my attention at a time when my brain was being pulled in multiple directions gets it two thumbs up (or 4 stars at Goodreads). Definitely look forward to her next novel.