Oh my. Get ready for a deluge of book reviews. I haven’t posted much lately and have had an onslaught of sickness travel through my house so my blogging productivity took a nosedive. I will spend this next week trying to catch up on reviews and postings. At the moment I am five reviews behind and still making progress with reads. EEK! Without further ado, here is the first of five. And apologies if these particular reviews are a bit less detailed than usual for the aforementioned reasons.
Ten-year-old Ruby Trick lives in the small seaside village of Limeburn in Devon the United Kingdom. She adores her father, the unfortunate John Trick, an out of work and down on his luck lover of all things cowboy, and practically detests her mother, Alison, a woman we readers can quickly glean is much more complicated than Ruby imagines. A masked assailant begins to terrorize the women of Limeburn and his antics quickly turn deadly. When John takes Ruby along on his “posse” to track down the killer, Ruby finds herself facing potentially deadly consequences for herself and her family.
First of all, I really loved Ruby as a character. I found her charming and flawed in a way that only an author who truly understands the complexity of children could create. As a mother, her initial devotion to her father and hatred of her mother really struck me, but I feel this is accurate. Children don’t often understand the nuance of parental relationships. Ruby only saw her mother as a villain. She didn’t see the subtle ways her mother protected her. And she didn’t see the ways in which her father wasn’t exactly an ideal parent. Welcome to the frustration of parenting. Your kids usually hate you for all the wrong reasons. *sigh*
Bauer did an excellent job with all her characters. I especially liked the detective duo, DCI Kirsty King and DC Calivin Bridge. They added a lot to the overall tone of the book. I found their humorous passages to lighten an otherwise pretty bleak and miserable plot. I think that can be important in books like this where the crimes are often so horrifying they tempt you to stop reading. While I felt, ultimately, the detectives really added nothing substantial to the conclusion of the story, they were still pretty important in the overall scheme of things if only to bring a smile to our faces. I do wish we’d been given a bit more closure to their story, but that’s really not ultimately that important to the narrative. Honestly, the more important aspect of the story is Ruby’s overall growth and development in the face of the obstacles she faces. It’s her coming to terms with the complexities of life and relationships, as well as finding out the important life lesson that people are much more complex than in the black and white version of them in your head.
Here’s one of my only fairly minor (maybe minor???) nitpicks. This was our book club book selection for the month. There were some really subtle but extremely important parts of this book that simply escaped the attention of more than half our members. Bauer tends to nudge readers in a certain direction but never really comes out and says what she means, and sometimes these concepts are dropped completely before they come to full fruition. If a reader isn’t paying EXTREMELY close attention, they can miss an important piece of information. In our case, more of us missed the details than actually picked up on them, and that’s a bit of a problem in my opinion. Now, I don’t mean big important things like who the killer is, etc. As a matter of fact, there’s really not a lot of mystery to this thriller. You know who the killer is pretty dang early. I see this more as a coming of age story than a murder mystery, and I’m pretty ok with that fact. The details I’m referring to deal more with character traits and past events that shape our characters, and they were pretty major things.
Overall, I would say this book is an extremely enjoyable and very quick read with some minor flaws. The characters and the crimes are quite compelling, though the crimes are extremely distressing in nature. Consider this a fair warning to readers who are sensitive to such things. Considering all factors, I give this one an overall 3.5 stars.