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Saturday, October 14, 2006

TBR Challenge for October

October's TBR Challenge was to read the book with the most appealing cover in your TBR pile. This was a tricky one, because I'm not a very visually-oriented person, and I wasn't particularly enthralled by any of the covers. If you are, btw, go to AAR's annual cover contest and vote for best & worst covers sometime before the end of the month.

After some deliberation, I picked:

***** Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane. Mystery.

Even larger, it's hard to get the impact on the computer screen. The gray is more silver, the red is metallic, and it's a very chilling, atmospheric cover--very fitting to the book.

Prayers for Rain has been in my TBR pile for quite a while--several years at least. Surely not since 1999, though my copy is a new, non-remaindered hardcover, so probably since 2000. I don't feel that bad about leaving it there, because there are still no new Kenzie/Gennaro stories, and it's a bit sad knowing I've read the last one in my TBR pile.

The series is about PI Patrick Kenzie, his complex professional/romantic relationship with his partner Angie Gennaro, and their psychotic but extremely loyal pal Bubba Rogowski.

This 5th book in the series starts with Kenzie & Gennaro split up, both personally and professionally, and Patrick's not taking it well, reevaluating his life as Angie had. A young woman comes to him for help with a simple stalker, and he solves the problem without breaking a sweat, or even seeing her again.

Six months later, the same young woman, who'd been the epitome of "sweet girl next door", has committed suicide. The fact that she'd called him 3 months earlier and he'd forgotten to get back to her makes Patrick curious, so he starts to check things out. The more he learns, the more curious he becomes.

Before long, he's enlisted Angie & Bubba's help, and they find themselves afoul of the local mob, and embroiled in a case that's looking more sinister by the minute.

It's dark, with no easy answers, and Kenzie's brand of solution is always satisfying--violence when necessary, but always with a psychological angle, never pointless brute force. There's also humor in the darkness, like Bubba complaining when he doesn't get to just blow something up.

What grabs me about this, and the other books in the series, are the complex characters. We get the motivations of everyone, not just the main characters, and they all ring true. And yes, I've really enjoyed the ups and downs of the Kenzie/Gennaro relationship. It's not a sweet, HEA one, but it sucked me in.

I guess I'll have to break down now and get Lehane's non-series books. I'm assured they're just as good, though having seen the movie version of Mystic River, I'm a little wary of reading it.


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Did you do the challenge? What's the best cover in your TBR pile?
I've read whatever short stories Lehane's published lately--at least the ones that make it in Ellery Queen or Otto Penzler's Best Mystery Stories anthologies. He's a little dark for my taste but nonetheless a thoughtful writer.
He is dark--I definitely couldn't take a steady diet of his work. But once in a while, it's a great rush.

I should check out the mystery story magazines again. I used to subscribe, but got out of the habit. I discovered quite a few favorite authors that way.
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