Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Review: "Pretty Little Things" by Jilliane Hoffman

I picked this book up at the library because its a mystery/thriller written by a woman and set in Florida. (You'd think we have more crime here than anyplace -- and maybe we do.)   It's generally similar to what I'm doing and I wanted to check it out.

The plot was good, it kept moving (relentlessly). It also kept me guessing.  The obvious was never the right answer, which is good. But then the most obvious answer, that the reader rejects, is, well, I won't go there. The story certainly kept me turning the pages, and I finished the book in less than 24 hours.  I liked the characters of Dees and his wife.  There could be a series here, if there isn't already.

That's the good stuff.

The bad stuff, however, was there from page one when the narrator uses the word "gonna".  Not in dialect. Not in a quote.  In the narrative.  I've never seen that before, I don't want to ever see it again.  Hoffman repeatedly uses slang in the narrative. I found it very distracting.

The other thing she did that annoyed me as a reader was use acronyms that required translation. She'd give the acronym and then define it. I hated that.  Standard usage for that is to write out the entire name, and then give the acronym in parentheses. After that just use the acronym. What is more, with the alphabet soup of her police world, she'd have done the reader a favor to write out the full name each time.

Worst of all: what is the deal with brutality in books these days?  Half the books I've picked up lately contain sadistic sex, torture, and mutilation.   What happened to engaging stories about interesting characters, and mysteries that involve people who go missing without getting chopped up in pieces by sexually perverted psychopaths?  It is almost as though sadism is the new swearing.  We have escalated from shocking people with dirty words and then sex and then graphic violence. Now it seems we can only shock people by using extreme sexual violence.

I, for one, protest.

Other than reading the last of The Girl Who books (I've got to find out how it ends), I'm swearing off books that have graphic violence and brutality.  I'm done. Even if they're well written and interesting.  I'm not going there. That does not mean I won't read  books with violence and cruelty as an aspect of the story.  It means I'm not going to read books where the hook is sexual violence that is described in detail.

That is exploitative and I don't want to spend my money or time on it. It especially bothers me when exploitative stories about sexual violence against women are written by a woman!

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