Book review: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Something in the Water has one of the best opening chapters of any book I’ve ever read.

I only wish the twist hadn’t been quite so transparent and easily deduced.

And, while that didn’t ruin the novel for me, it did keep it from being one of my favorites. But it was certainly close to rising to that level.

The story starts with Erin digging her husband’s grave. It describes the ritual in brutal, what I can only assume is authentic detail. As readers find out, it’s not the start of Erin’s story. I don’t always love frames like this one, but this was absolutely the best way to start this novel. I wonder if that was Steadman’s original idea, or whether a great editor teased this opening out of her. Since Steadman is an actress, and TV/film often uses frame stories like this, either way would make sense.

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Book review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kakufka

Girl in Snow drew me in with its premise and beautiful writing and did not disappoint.

Unlike many suspense novels, I felt myself caring about and searching for the answers to all of the mysterious plots, both main and sub.

And there were plenty of them.

The main mystery, as the title implies, is finding out who killed Lucinda Hayes, who was found in the snow of a small Colorado town’s school playground.

There are many people who could have done it, including a couple of narrators. But somewhere along the way, I almost stopped caring about whether or not one of them did it. Getting to know teenagers Cameron Whitley, who may or may not be a budding sociopath, and Jade, a girl who envied Lucinda but had worse problems than a romantic rivalry.

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Book review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I wanted to read this novel because it was, as the cover indicated, a No. 1 Bestseller, and the movie was about to be released.

Though it was a good read, it was not one that I felt was worth the hype.

Without giving any spoilers, I will say the main “mystery” was not hard to solve early, and the getting there did not completely make up for knowing whodunit. In addition, I did not create a strong emotional connection to any of the characters.

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Book review: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

I have recommended, and will continue to recommend, My Sister’s Grave to everyone I know who reads novels.

The novel introduces the world to Tracy Crosswhite, a sharpshooting Seattle detective whose kid sister was murdered in their youth.

As many procedurals do, the novel has two cases to solve. There’s the immediate murder that Crosswhite and her partner, Kinsington Rowe, are working. Then there is Crosswhite’s sister’s murder, which was solved long ago, but hurriedly and without a body.

As you might’ve guessed, the discovery of that body in her long-hidden “grave” decades later is what sets the events of My Sister’s Grave in motion.

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Review: ‘Sharp Objects’ Episode 2, ‘Dirt’

*** WARNING, SPOILERS BELOW ***

HBO’s limited series, “Sharp Objects,” is starting to drift a bit farther away from the novel. Whether or not that’s a bad thing (to those who read Gillian Flynn’s debut work) will be in the eyes of each beholder. I have no major objections to the differences so far, and some are very necessary for any television adaptation.

But, for those who have not read the novel, I am a little worried that the story has not been changed up in a way that speeds up the story. If Episode 3 does not move a bit more quickly, HBO may lose the audience that is just now being introduced to the characters in Wind Gap.

The major differences in Episode 2, “Dirt,” are scenes that do not involve Camille (Amy Adams). The novel is told in the first person and has no other points of view, so she is in every scene. In “Dirt,” we watch a couple of scenes without Camille. This is standard for television and movies these days and generally (in my opinion) makes on-screen storytelling better.

A couple of those involved Detective Willis (Chris Messina), which was good. He is a good actor worthy of every second of screen time as HBO will give him. The best non-Camille scene was Willis pulling teeth from a pig’s head. He tells Camille he did this later, leading to the best bit of dialogue in the series so far regarding the southern ties between the phrases “fuck you” and “bless your heart.”

I also very much enjoyed the different approach Natalie Keene’s mother took during the eulogy. In the novel, she was polite, as one would expect a Wind Gap woman to be. In the TV show, her speech was much more full of pain and a desire for vengeance. A change for the better, in my opinion.

On the other hand, I did not see any need for the scene between Adora and her husband, Alan Crellin. It did not make me feel anything, and I thought it just took up screen time.

I am also not a fan of how hard the show is trying to sell us on Ann Nash’s father as a suspect in the girls’ deaths. The novel does this just a tiny bit, but so far they are basically pointing to Mr. Nash with a giant arrow that reads, “RED HERRING.”

I was glad we were finally able to see the floor of Adora’s room and then cutting straight to Amma polishing her miniature version.

I also noticed that Jodes was not the member of Amma’s crew that was written out of the show. I assume they are going to keep her around for her small piece of significance at the end.

I am still enjoying the series and like spotting the differences and easter eggs (such as more words written on objects rather than flaring up on her skin as they do during internal dialogue in the novel), but I fear HBO may start getting increasingly negative reviews if the series doesn’t get a little darker a little quicker.