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Sunday, August 13, 2006

***½ A Whisper in the Dark by Linda Castillo. Romantic suspense.

Bookstore owner Julia Wainwright has been receiving threatening notes, and knows she can no longer ignore them, but she's hesitant to go to the police because it's become obvious to her that they're related to her secret: the preacher's daughter writes erotic romance.

Her father gets wind of the notes and, concerned that his position is responsible for the threat, asks ex-cop John Merrick to protect her.

John quit the force when, during a drug bust, he shot and killed an undercover DEA officer. Since then, he's been unable to pick up his gun, and has been sliding further and further into the bottle.

John's journey is very well described. His guilt and his attempts to quiet it with alcohol are real, as is his depression. The way his interest in Julia and his concern for her prompts him to begin to crawl out of the hole he's dug for himself, particularly the fact that it's not a simple, straightforward change, is utterly convincing.

I was less happy with Julia. Her fear was real, but... and this is entirely personal preference--not a reflection on the writing... I was irritated by the notion that writing romance was something to be ashamed of, and that irritation made me less sympathetic toward the character.

I was also unhappy with the bad guy. I could believe that someone's wacko enough to want to kill someone for writing sex scenes, but in a romantic suspense book, I want more. In particular, I'd have liked it explained better how he came across the book in the first place. The coincidence was especially hard to swallow--it's not like there are hardly any erotic romances out there.

And a bitty nit: Julia's explanation to John of what "erotic literature" is was insulting to both the character and to the reader. It's not an obscure term.

Despite my complaints, A Whisper in the Dark was a solid romantic suspense read.


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Darla - was Linda Castello one of the author you like to read? Or is it just this book that didn't give you a "OMG" impression?

I've only read two of her books before: The Perfect Victim 4 years ago, and Fade to Red 2 years ago. I suspect I liked The Perfect Victim better of the two, but even though I've refreshed my memory on the plots, I don't really remember my impressions.
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