* * 2/10 Couldn’t finish
I read for pleasure and feel no obligation to finish a review book if I don’t enjoy it. It’s rare, but it does happen.
The writing in the book is good and there is a plot there, but where the story fell down is with the characters. Many of them were so stereotyped and cliché, it was unbearable and often inaccurate… but then, stereotypes usually are.
The abused housewife for example, who is too scared to go home, also shows a profound misunderstanding from the author about domestic violence and a lack of research into the subject.
The main character, Tatum, is unlikeable in that she spends much of her time in judgement of others, with her running commentary deriding the choices of others. Where she offers help, it comes across as condescending. She never tries to understand another person or walk in their shoes. I have the impression I am supposed to believe that Tatum rose above her own difficult childhood and has little patience for those who she sees as never having tried, but as a kind-hearted person will try to help anyway. Because of that I find her deeply unpleasant. Kindness is born from understanding, not superiority or obligation.
Plot is good except for a minor point, the ‘Sunflower Specials’. Suspense of belief was suspended too far [Highlight for SPOILER]
The Sunflower Special is where Tatum stands up for the little people and does what they can’t, which is get revenge for wrongs done to them. Asking me to believe that any person Tatum exacted revenge on never went back to their original victims to make their life worse is too much, never mind that so far she hasn’t been caught. There was no evidence of Tatum worrying that her client may be undercover police – she is doing something on the grey side of legal, after all – and the whole thing felt quite clumsy.
For those who can get past the characters, this is quite a good book. There is mystery and suspense, well written and well woven.