I’m truly astounded. The New York Times Book Review section runs short reviews of mysteries, PI’s, police procedurals, etc. on single page – typically four or five books will be reviewed. Space is limited, so generally, I can count on this space for a quick look at several books I may wish to put on my library hold list, or even buy. Some are going to be a genre (true crime) or type (translated from Portuguese) I’m not interested in. But generally, reviews are positive. After all, there are so many deserving books out there, why devote 4-5 column inches on a book that wasn’t good?
That’s why it’s astounding, and upon reflection, refreshing that Marilyn Stasio has reviewed the The Other Side of the Door and found it to be unworthy. She’s even snarky! The book’s conceit is that it withholds the identity of the victim and the role of the protagonist. Who is it? Did she murder that person? Just find them? What? But to make it work, she has to have the main character say things like “Do you want to know what happened? and have her friend answer “Do you want to tell me?” “Not yet.” “Then wait.”
Marilyn’s comment on this back-and-forth? “Take your time, ladies, and turn out the lights when you’re done.” Love it.
I can only imagine that the reason for including the book in the ever-so-tight column is that it is written by Nicci Gerrard and Sean French (as Nicci French), and their books are usually reliable interesting and entertaining – so Marilyn probably received the review copy, expected to enjoy it, and felt ripped off. Good for her for point it out.
Other books reviewed include Thomas Perry’s new one, Strip, The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard, and Storm Prey, John Sandford‘s 20th Lucas Davenport novel. These four all go on the Literary Lunchbox library list. Sorry, Nicci and Sean. You can read the whole column and enjoy it yourself here.