Friday, February 19, 2021

read: This Tender Land (5 stars)

This Tender LandThis Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When someone describes a book as a "page turner", they usually mean that it is action-packed and the reader can't turn the pages fast enough to keep up. This Tender Land is a page-turner, but in the manner of a long letter from a well-loved relative regaling the reader with news both good and bad that must be both savored and rushed so as not to miss any nuance and yet get to every detail as quickly as possible. It is one of those books that leaves the reader both relieved and saddened that it is over. It must be read again.

Krueger has written a truly American epic that is often, and rightfully, compared to both The Grapes of Wrath and Huckleberry Finn. Yet it is neither of these. It is its own lovely thing. A love letter to Minnesota and the Mississippi River and a time gone by that was magical, awful and beautiful. It is a coming-of-age story for both the characters and the country. It must be read again. It definitely deserves five stars.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

read: In Her Tracks (4 stars)

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite, #8)In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tracy Crosswhite is a heckuva detective and Robert Dugoni is a heckuva writer. That's why I can't figure out why I didn't love the heck out of this book, like I have the previous volumes in the series. The prose is as solid and true-to-life as ever and the intertwining plots are exceptionally well-done. There are plenty of surprises. In this novel, Detective Crosswhite solves three different cases, two of which had been left unsolved by previous detectives (technically, one case is actually two unrelated victims with similar circumstances).

Upon reflection, I think I see two issues I had during my initial reading. First, there is a lot of dialog and reflection about Tracy's recent transition to being a working mother. While this is indeed an important perspective and does affect how she is dealing with her co-workers and cases, it seemed to really bog down the early chapters of the book. The second factor is that more pages than usual seem to be spent with apparent antagonists, rather than tracking them down. I didn't like spending that much time with these creeps. Scanning through the book again, I don't think these are actually major flaws and probably had more to do with my reactions than the writing itself.

This book is definitely aimed at readers that are already following the adventures of Tracy Crosswhite. That doesn't mean a new reader will be lost. Mr. Dugoni is too talented a writer to let that happen. But I would recommend reading an earlier book in the series before picking up this one. You won't be disappointed either way.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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