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Monday, December 01, 2014

Right-Up-My-Alley Premise Doesn't Live Up to Promise

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Alice Hyatt believed she had a happy, stable marriage.  Then, her accountant husband disappeared with a pretty co-worker and the $200 million he stole from his company's clients.  Even though Alice was as shocked by his actions as everyone else, the police never quite believed her.  Her reputation shot, Alice fled New York City, nursing her broken heart at her family's summer cottage in the Berkshires.  Seven years later, she's still in Massachusetts, where she's finally managed to rebuild her life.  Her newly-launched landscape design company is gaining favor among the area's wealthy, securing her reputation as a tough, but successful businesswoman.  Sure, people still whisper about her husband, but Alice has managed to put the scandal behind her.  Mostly.  

When Alice receives an offer from the wealthiest man in town to design the extensive gardens which will surround his new mansion, she can hardly believe her luck.  Although Alice doesn't agree with hydro-fracking, the controversial practice through which Graham McKenzie has amassed his fortune, she can't help imagining all the things she could do with the exorbitant amount he's proposing to pay her.  After striking a deal that includes McKenzie donating a large sum to the town's historical society, Alice takes the job.  Although not everyone is happy about her decision, she's thrilled, especially with the friendship she's developing with her new boss.  Maybe McKenzie isn't the greedy blowhard everyone thinks he is.

Just when everything seems to be going right for Alice, her big paycheck bounces.  Then, her employer collapses.  He's dead.  And not of natural causes.  Plenty of people had reason to want McKenzie in the grave—including Alice.  With the suspicions of her past hanging over her head, she finds herself Public Enemy Number One.  The only way to clear her name?  Sniff out Graham McKenzie's murderer.  Before she ends up behind bars for a crime she didn't commit.

I always like a good scorned-woman-returns-home-to-find-herself-again story.  And with a murder mystery thrown into the mix?  How could I resist?  Bleeding Heart by Liza Gyllenhaal, sounded like the kind of novel I would totally eat up.  I would have, too, if it weren't for a few things, namely:  (1) a clumsy, plodding storyline; (2) a cast of unlikable characters; and (3) a mystery that starts too late and finishes too early.  A more suspenseful, streamlined plot would have done wonders for this novel.  As is, I found it dull, tedious and just not all that enjoyable.  Bummer, since Bleeding Heart had definite potential.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual content, and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Bleeding Heart from the generous folks at Penguin.  Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, unlikeable characters definitely put a book in danger of not being liked by me. Some can be redeemed by engaging my sympathies or have their lack of likeability mitigated by a deeper understanding of *why* they're so unlikeable. Others I just don't care enough about, and then the book is sunk. I actually wrote a review about a book with just such a problem this past weekend. What a bummer when they don't live up to their promise!


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