Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This One's For You, Marti Green

I picked up Karen Young’s Blood Bayou because the back cover description sounded familiar—similar to the plot from someone I met at the NYC Pitch and Shop Conference. Hi Marti!

Cypress swamp in the Everglades of Florida

Camille Vermillion is a lawyer who belongs to the Truth Project, an organization that frees wrongly convicted criminals. When one of her Truth Project clients is set free, he’s in the hospital a day later after a violent altercation with the police. They suspect this poor schmo slaughtered a woman in Blood Bayou. The Truth Project is shut down and Camille heads home to the bayou to find the real killer, but ends up reuniting with her ex-husband, lawyer-turned-pastor Jack.

After a little digging, I found many positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. But I’m having trouble joining the rah-rah band. The killer’s identity is easy to figure out, but this is a tricky thing for an author to balance. With no clues, readers might feel the author pulled the baddie out of the proverbial hat at the last minute. But if the clues are too easy, then a savvy reader may think, “Wow, what an excellent red herring! I can’t wait to see who it really is.” Then comes, “That’s it? It was Mr. Butler? But, but, . . . that’s way to obvious!” Then again, maybe Young wanted us to know so we could squirm whenever the killer and the herione interacted.

Another downer was the endgame. The villain corners Camille and she pulls the old let-me-get-you-talking-so-you-don’t-kill-me-immediately-like-any-self-respecting-killer-would trick. The villain falls for it and explains what he did and why and what he had for breakfast. This gives the hero has plenty of time to save the girl.

There were highlights. The thriller part was the least interesting to me, but the relationship between Camille and Jack was very well done. I loved Jack’s character and the evolution he goes through, especially the part where he helped a young man whose life he had ruined. That was strong. It makes me wonder what this book could have been if the serial killer part was gone and it just dealt with Camille and Jack’s past and present. A deeper look into these characters would have been delicious.


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