Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Karen White -- The House on Tradd Street

I'm originally from Charleston, moved away more than a decade ago, but miss it very much. So I'm a sucker for Low Country writers, anything that allows me to travel back even in my mind. I enjoyed the premise, and I found the 3 main characters (Melanie, Jack and Sophie) developed well. Melanie's father was under developed and by contrast the Secretary in the Real Estate office was over developed. But I could even look past those flaws and still enjoy the book.

My biggest problem with the book is that Karen repeatedly opened false starts. One glaring example is the "weekend" with Marc Longo. She never even discusses that weekend in the moment, and later refers to it as an after thought when she is considering he might be gay. Later during the ghost walk with Sophie, she talks about how the common assumption about the ghost of Mrs. Sue Howard Hardy pining over the death of her stillborn child is wrong. "I knew differently, of course, having spoken with the grieving woman once while out walking with my mother when I was a little girl." And that's it; she never tells the reader what the grieving woman told her.

Another issue I have is the completely undeveloped relationship with Marc. It's like he's thrown in just to be the protagonist, and she has no interest in this character. We find out nothing about him, except what Jack and Melanie's father tell Melanie. He is brought in to move the story line along, and clearly the reader is supposed to believe he's a threat to Melanie, but there's never a show down. He's made out to be desperate and evil, but he never really does anything evil.

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