January 2016

Midnight Sin, Michael Tabman >>
Dying Light, Stuart MacBride >>

Nine stalwart members made it from our usual meeting place (closed unexpectedly) to a last minute substitute location. Shout out to Whole Foods Roosevelt for welcoming us into their meeting room!

First up for discussion was Midnight Sin by Michael Tabman. Only two people read the entire book, and two started and abandoned it.

R. opened the discussion, giving kudos to the authenticity of the narrative. This was a real cop story written by a real cop. The story, the scenes, the politics, the characters, came across as genuine and left one thinking about it long after it was put down. R. also mentioned particularly appreciating the empathy for the victims that showed up in the cop’s use of the victims’ full names.

This led to a conversation about how graphic the book was, and just how “authentic” do we want our police procedurals to be in the realm of mystery fiction. Although many in the group enjoy a wide swath of sub-genres (this is no cozy-only-mystery group by far) the feeling by most was that the authenticity of ugly behaviors in this particular book was too much.

Those who read the book (all or some) also agreed that the writing was poor. We discussed how on occasion we’d be compelled to continue reading a novel that was more graphic than our usual liking–if the writing really stood out. That was not the case for this story. Cleary the hook was a genuine police perspective, from a writer with serious credentials in the police–not literary-field.

Many more attendees completed Stuart MacBride’s Dying Light. The reviews: 5 Thumbs Up, 2 Thumbs Down, 1 Thumb in the Middle.

MacBride was clearly the better writer of the two this month. Criticism included “too many moving parts”, and the torture scenes–really over the top. However, unlike Tabman, MacBride was good enough a writer to compel us to complete the story. The graphic torture scenes didn’t have the same effect on the group as Tabman’s violence. One member referred to Dying Sin as “cleaned up gritty.” However, there was mention that MacBride’s writing, although appreciably better than Tabman’s, did not elevate this novel enough. One member, G., mentioned, “I like it [mystery fiction] to attempt to approach literature.” There was question of the overall suspense; some felt like we were plowing through to the end…we hung on…but it wasn’t easy. The characters weren’t well developed and no one really got a good sense of Logan even though he was really the main character.

On the plus side, the humor of MacBride was appreciated, and mention was made of the comic descriptions of Steele. All agreed that Logan, sadly, DID belong on the “screw up squad” and many felt the very last mystery to be solved caught us by surprise.

Thanks all for your participation in the discussion; looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinions next month!

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