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10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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57 / 165 books. 35% done!
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cape Cod Family Drama Satisfying, But Not Super Memorable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Brett has been entranced with Charlie Moss ever since she met him as an 18-year-old college student.  Even now, after marriage and the birth of their first child, she's still swayed by his magnetic charm.  His blasé attitude and perpetual joblessness, however, are becoming a bit of a problem.  Struggling to hold their little family together, Brett is at the end of her rope.  She doesn't want to hurt Charlie, but it might be time to call it quits.  For her sake and for that of 15 month-old Sarah.

Then, the unthinkable happens.  Charlie is murdered, his throat gruesomely slit on the back deck of the Moss' seaside Cape Cod cottage.  Wracked with grief, Brett struggles to understand what has happened.  Who could have done such a heinous deed?  The most obvious suspect is Charlie's mentally unstable brother, Eli, who had shown up unexpectedly the day before.  But he's not the only one with motive, opportunity.  Was Charlie killed by a passing stranger?  Or someone he knew?  His own brother, perhaps?  As the investigation wears on, Brett will have to face some shocking truths—about her marriage, her family, and herself.

Although The Last September by Nina de Gramont is a murder mystery, it's really more of a family drama than anything else.  Its focus remains on the characters and their relationships, not the crime.  Brett, Charlie, Eli, and the rest are complex story people.  All realistically flawed, only Eli is truly sympathetic.  Neither Brett nor Charlie are super likable, both being fickle and selfish.  Overall, the novel is depressing, but it's also compelling enough that I wanted to know what really happened to Charlie.  The Last September is a satisfying read, in the end, just not a super memorable one.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Last September with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Based-On-TV-Series Mystery Novel Tells Fuller, More Compelling Story

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When the dead body of an 11-year-old boy is found on the beach in the sleepy, seaside hamlet of Broadchurch, it rocks the small Dorset community to its core.  Danny Latimer had grown up in the town, was well known by many.  Did he purposely jump off the cliffs in order to end his own life?  Did he fall?  Was he pushed?  These are the questions that haunt Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller.  For her, it's a very personal case—Danny was her son's best friend.  Ellie knows the Latimers well.  Their grief pierces her to the soul.

Ellie's keen to solve the case, knowing closure will do the Latimers a world of good.  She's not thrilled, however, when a brusque outsider—Detective Inspector Alec Hardy—is brought in to help the local police investigate Danny's death.  Not only does DI Hardy harbor his own secrets, but he's certain the good folks of Broadchurch keep plenty of their own.  He's not wrong.  As the detectives pummel Ellie's friends, neighbors, and acquaintances for answers, she's shocked by what they uncover.  Someone killed Danny.  Someone from Broadchurch.  Who would do such a thing?  And why?  As the Latimers slowly fall apart, it's up to Ellie—their friend and confidante—to figure out what really happened to their little boy.  The truth will bring an already outraged town to its knees.  It always does when the monster is one of your own ...

You may have heard of Broadchurch, a British crime drama that ran on ITV for three seasons starting in 2013.  Starring David Tennant (best known as the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who) as DI Hardy and Olivia Colman as Ellie, the series is available to view on Netflix.  Interestingly, Broadchurch the show is not based on Broadchurch the novel, but the other way around.  This is so odd because, to me, the latter is much better than the former.  Perhaps this simply has to do with my preference for print over film, but Broadchurch by Erin Kelly tells a much fuller story than the t.v. version.  In fact, if I hadn't read the book first I think I would have been a bit lost watching the series as its filmed in an artsy way with a choppy storyline and lots of moody, melodramatic scenes that offer more in the way of creativity than clarity.   Still, both versions are complex, compelling, and well-plotted.  The twists mostly caught me off-guard.  As did the identity of the murderer.  I did not see it coming at all.  While I always like a small-town-with-big-secrets story, some are more disturbing than others.  I'm not going to lie—Broadchurch was difficult to read (and watch) at certain points.  It's depressing.  And the ending made me sick to my stomach, truth be told.  Overall, though, the book's an engrossing page turner that I had trouble putting down even when I really, really wanted to.  I'll definitely look for more of Kelly's work at my local library.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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