Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ephron, Hallie (Never Tell a Lie)

[An Early Reviewer copy from LibraryThing. Thanks LT!]

This is the first mystery by a woman famous for having written the bible on how to write mysteries (Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel)? Huh, I guess practicing what you preach is a lot harder than it sounds.

I've never seen so many telegraphed clues in one book; I think I spotted at least 6. Anyone who's read at least a dozen mysteries will be able to spot them all as well, I guarantee it. This means that by page 25 I knew the outcome of the book. I even bet my husband a thousand dollars that I'd be right (which he cleverly didn't take since I was bemoaning clues and plot as I read).

It's not that the writing is terrible. In fact, it's good-- I would be surprised if it weren't, seeing as Ephron is a professor of creative writing. Her post-crisis ending is particularly inspired. But it seems to me that clever writing is a different talent from clever plot direction. While you are enjoying the story of Ivy and her too-good-to-be-true husband about to have their first baby and what unfolds around their seemingly perfect life, you just wish it were over because you already know what will transpire. Or maybe for some, that lets everything off the hook and you can just sit back and relax?

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