The Murderer’s Daughter

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 I don’t necessarily enjoy being negative about the works of writers. Maybe I shouldn’t review books when I’m grumpy. But…since I now have 54 books stacked up on my bookshelf waiting to be read and reviewed, I need to get through ’em, right? Obviously it’s been a little while since I’ve posted – due to a number of things – and I need to really get to it, right?  Even if it’s to start out by telling you that this book kind of ticked me off.

Let’s start with a quick description…

A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.

First of all, I’ve never been a fan of an author writing a main character who’s absolutely brilliant, one of the greatest minds out there.  It just strikes me as a way to take a bit of reality from the story and make you notice the author rather than the character. It reminds me of when I read the books of Chaim Potok when I was young. The main character was always a brilliant Jewish boy, and the books were written by a Jewish man who considered himself to be brilliant. Why not write a memoir entitled “I Believe I’m Smarter and More Misunderstood Than You”? instead?  Save us all some time…

And here, in this novel, having a brilliant main character seems to be used as an opportunity to pull out all of the grandiose verbiage which comes across as pompous and a pleading for academic acceptance. But that’s not even consistent. If that’s the tone of the whole book, fine. I think we’ve all read those authors.

When a character has to hit the brakes to avoid “pulverizing a pedestrian who leaped off the sidewalk into nocturnal traffic.”, it just seems to be taking things too far… Especially when it isn’t consistent. There will be “normal” descriptions and wording for paragraphs until it seems time to remind the readers that yes, the author is brilliantly able to use big, or rarely-used words. Heck, there’s a sentence when the main character “drank water, peed, drank some more, drained her bladder again, then did some stretching and push-ups and took a nap.” But later, does a house sit on a cul-de-sack? No…that’s amateuristic. Instead, it’s “nearly at the street’s terminus”.

And, when a male author writes about the sexual awakening and blossoming of a teenaged girl, it really creeps me out a bit… Then, when the female main character is described – again by a male author – as having extremely selfish sexual escapades for her own occasional needs, it seems to say far more about the author than you would ever want to know.  But fortunately, that isn’t a huge aspect of the story line. More of an excuse for the main character to randomly meet one person in an area of millions that will kind of impact the story line, even if she’s going to meet him again the next day.  Kind of odd, kind of random and kind of lacking in realistic odds.

There’s the potential for a decent story line here, hidden within the jumble. Growing up within the foster system, trying to find yourself, and coming to terms with who you turned out to be… That makes for an intriguing background to the story. But there’s definitely too much of the main character simply thinking – thinking in a hotel room, thinking in a cafe, thinking while driving, thinking over solitary dinner, thinking in next hotel, thinking about her past, thinking about her present, etc. There’s just not enough character development through action or the interactions with or viewpoints of others. And, the few other characters that do exist are boring and two-dimensional. It’s like they’re there because they have to be, not to really add anything more than the basics.

Then, surprisingly, especially considering this was written by a best-selling author of many other books, this novel ends as if the author had simply grown completely bored of dealing with it and wanted to move on to something else (you and me both dude). There’s no grand revelation, no shocks or surprise, and not even a minor reward for reaching the end.  Just a quick resolution (I’ll be good and avoid giving out any details to spoil(?) it for anyone) with no consequences, no meaning and no real impact to the main character that we can see.  Like someone walking out in the middle of the conversation because they’re done.  No resolution, no wrap up, and no consideration for the other party.  Just a turn of the back and walk away…

So I just can’t recommend this one.  I impressed myself by even finishing it, but that’s just because I can be a bit stubborn and refuse to quit, even when I should.  Sometimes authors lose their way and can sell books simply with their name attached.  And that’s what this feels like.  But I think anyone who wants a good psychological thriller could do far better…

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