Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't I Know You by Karen Shepard

The murder of a young woman is a devastation that gnaws at three lives

Unfortunately, I really had to grit my teeth to get through this. Murder stories are not my preference. I’m squeamish. Secondly, in some novels (such as this one) the brutal murder seems only to inject the surrounding characters with a deep passivity. Also, there were a couple of authorial choices that confused me. The novel is set up in three sections – each with a unique point of view. The first point of view is that of the young woman’s son. But I couldn’t figure out how old he was – was he five? Was he fifteen? Was he developmentally disabled? Was he a genius? And then at the end – the twist – the murderer revealed! Only it happens there are two characters with similar names. I just didn’t feel like flipping back to figure out who it was.

A number of things were skillfully done – myriad characters, all finely detailed, all longing for something, always disappointed by those closest to them. The scenes were all about showing, not telling. All about the sidelong glance. Watercolors, not fingerpaints.

In general, the prose was too buttoned down for my taste. The male POV, the boy, was too washed out. He didn’t feel like a man to me. This story desperately needed a detective, I think, not another shell shocked narrator.

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