Disappointing Reading

Since I read about two books a week, I get most of them from the library. In the last month or more, I haven’t found much that caught my interest. There was one novel by an Australian author that painted a great picture of the outback and a psychological thriller that was a good read. Several of the others I didn’t finish. My last read was John Grisham’s latest, The Guardians. It’s supposed to be a legal thriller, but there’s no thriller in it. Just a lengthy legal process of exonerating the wrongly imprisoned. Too many characters to follow and none of them developed, not even the protagonist.

Many of the books that I give one or two stars on GoodReads are by bestselling authors and have high ratings. What am I missing? I love a good story, interesting characters, settings that make me want to visit, a mystery that keeps me guessing, a fascinating concept in SF, humor, heart, a thought-provoking idea…but many of the books I’ve read recently have none of these.

I hope the next novel I pick up is exciting.

Or maybe I need to get back to writing and see what I can do.

Candice Fox — Redemption Point

Fox writes a dark, twisted murder mystery filled with convoluted characters.

Ex-police officer turned PI, Ted Conkaffey, has moved north from Sydney to a small town in the Australian rainforest trying to hide from his past. Although innocent and never prosecuted due to lack of evidence, accusations of child rape plastered his name and face all over the news and the internet and completely disrupted his life—lost job, broken marriage, strangers who react to his familiar face. He lives with a family of geese that he brought into his yard to rescue from the crocodiles.

Ted’s partner, Amanda Pharrell, has no emotions, but strangely possesses the ability to read other people. When she was a teenager, she accidentally killed a girl and spent time in prison, which she refers to as the best time of her life. She’s an upbeat, smiling personality who rides her bike everywhere, refusing to drive a car.

Pip Sweeney, on her first assignment as Detective Inspector, hooks up with Ted and Amanda to investigate the murder of two young people at a rundown bar. She’s fascinated by Amanda. Pip carries guilt from when, as a child, she sat and watched her father die of a heart attack and did nothing to save him. She’s young and naïve and relies heavily on Amanda’s quirky insights.

The author adds excerpts from the diary of the perpetrator of the crime of which Conkaffey was accused. Another weird character, sick and twisted.

There are other off-beat minor characters—the father of the raped girl, who comes after Ted, then turns to looking for the real offender; the owner of the bar where the two bartenders were killed; a crime kingpin in Sydney; some of the neighbors around the bar; the girlfriend of the young man murdered in the bar. Almost every character is quirky, strange, or dark.

This second book in a series about Ted and Amanda covered the previous story thoroughly enough that I don’t feel I need to go back and read it. The plot kept my interest, there was even some humor here and there, and the setting in the rainforest felt real. But I didn’t connect at all with the scenes in Sydney; I couldn’t picture the city. The weird characters kept me reading. Definitely a character-driven book.