Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer People by Aaron Stander....

Image from amazon.com

From Amazon: "It is late June in Michigan's gold coast resort area. The summer residents are settling in for the season and the tourists are beginning to flood the highways and beaches. But the idyllic vision of a summer at the shore is suddenly shattered by a gangland-style shooting. This murder is quickly followed by the deaths of three more summer residents, each taking place under suspicious circumstances. At times hindered by local politics and the proverbial tension between the summer people and the natives, Sheriff Ray Elkins searches for the possible links between the four victims. As he probes into their tangled lives and dark histories, he finds both the motive and the possible murderer."

I would have read this book anyway after reading this description, but as it is I only found it AFTER I read the book. And the question that jumps to my mind is, "Did we read the same book?"

I mean, the details are the same, but I would certainly argue with the last sentence.

Let me back up a bit. The book begins with what appears to be a professional killing, but no one appears to have any suspects or a motive. Then there is an automobile accident, a heart attack/drowning, and a fire at the marina, all seemingly unconnected. The sheriff has his doubts, as the book description says, and he begins to try to piece things together.

The problem for me is with the writer's point of view and style. He uses the omniscient point of view to allow the reader to see some shadowy person behind the wheel of a boat involved with the heart attack/drowning victim. We see another (or the same) shadowy villain in a vehicle behind the one that crashes, killing its occupant. Same with the fire at the marina.

Only these are never connected in a coherent way. They are sort of explained by the sheriff's theories at the end, and he thinks he knows who the killer is, an Indian woman who was victimized by some nebulous group of "white boys" years and years ago. One of the sheriff's acquaintances, a woman, sets off on her own to find the woman the sheriff suspects, and after spending hours with her, comes back to report to the sheriff, "You'd like her." The book ends with the deaths unsolved, the woman in question returning to wherever she lives now, and no one the wiser for the possible connection.

I guess you could say it was a real-life ending, since not all crimes are neatly explained with loose ends tied up and the good guys living happily ever after and the bad guys either getting what they deserve or spending their remaining days behind bars. But it was a BOOK for Pete's sake, and it should have ended better than this.

Some authors tend to describe things to death, and for the most part Stander wasn't one of THOSE. It did seem, though, that every now and then he would catch himself and think, "Oh crap, I'm supposed to throw some description in here," and he would fire off a torrent of adjectives. His description wasn't BAD, but it wasn't used consistently.

I did like his characters, though. They seemed real, no larger-than-life sheriff, no handcuffed confessions, no unlikely epiphanies. For the most part they were just normal folks going through their normal routines, and they were likable sorts.

But the elements of the plot weren't connected well enough for me, and the ending pretty much sucked. Skip this one.

1 comment:

DJan said...

Okay, I'll skip it. Thanks!