Saturday, February 14, 2009

Doesn't Hold Water

I am not a spider person. Needless to say moving to California has almost killed me, because dayum, there are some freaky spiders in this state. But I love me a good suspense novel, and what better to keep me up at night than a freaky suspense novel about spiders? So when an ARC for Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner rolled into my office last spring, I grabbed it. And there it sat on my desk for months collecting dust. Finally, admitting defeat, I put my name on the massively long holds list for an audio book copy (I listened to the Books On Tape production, which is quite good).

First things first, listening to an audio book is a different experience than reading. It just is. For example, I cannot listen to romance on audio. I can't do it. Because inevitably I hit a love scene, and no matter how tame or raunchy, I feel like a pervert. I can read the skankiest, sweatiest, dirtiest, nastiest sex on the printed page, but having someone "read" it to me? Um yeah, no can do.

I was reminded of this while listening to Say Goodbye. Why? Well this is a Bad Things Happen To Kids book. As in Very Bad Things. I found it really, really disturbing. I have no doubt I'd still be disturbed by this suspense tale if I had read it - but not as much I don't think. It's one thing to read about bad things happening to good people; another thing entirely to have a narrator, in a creepy voice, tell you about the bad things happening to good people. Especially when the good people are, by and large, children. Yeah. It was a touch unsettling.

I've been reading and listening to suspense novels for a long time. While the majority of my blog readers were raiding their mama's stash of Harlequin Romances, I was reading Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton and Mary Higgins Clark. I cut my teeth on suspense. So trust me when I say it takes quite a bit for a suspense novel to disturb me. It just does.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy Say Goodbye - because it's really breathtakingly good. It's just a really tough book, because while you know it's a fiction book, you also know that monsters like those in this book do exist in real life. And that's enough to make you install 15 dead bolts on every door of your house, throw your computer out into the street, and never let your kids out of your sight.

This was my first book by Gardner and in the author's note she says, "Of all the novels I've written, this book is by far the most violent, and yes, it was difficult to write." I imagine it was. I'm hoping she kept a strong bottle of something (whiskey? vodka?) in her desk drawer while writing this one, because dayum. But after I finished the last CD in the audio book I knew I immediately wanted to address many of the romance readers who have commented on some of my suspense reviews in the past....
Yeah, you know how y'all tell me you won't read suspense or mystery because it's "too scary." Yeah, if you've read this book by Gardner? That argument doesn't hold water. Because this book warped my fragile little mind, and I've read a ton of "scary stuff" over the years. No more excuses for not picking up the Chelsea Cain books. Just sayin'.
Come into my parlor . . .

For Kimberly Quincy, FBI Special Agent, it all starts with a pregnant hooker. The story Delilah Rose tells Kimberly about her johns is too horrifying to be true—but prostitutes are disappearing, one by one, with no explanation, and no one but Kimberly seems to care.

Said the spider to the fly . . .

As a member of the Evidence Response Team, dead hookers aren’t exactly Kimberly’s specialty. The young agent is five months pregnant—she has other things to worry about than an alleged lunatic who uses spiders to do his dirty work. But Kimberly’s own mother and sister were victims of a serial killer. And now, without any bodies and with precious few clues, it’s all too clear that a serial killer has found the key to the perfect murder . . . or Kimberly is chasing a crime that never happened.

Kimberly’s caught in a web more lethal than any spider’s, and the more she fights for answers, the more tightly she’s trapped. What she doesn’t know is that she’s close—too close—to a psychopath who makes women’s nightmares come alive, and if he has his twisted way, it won’t be long before it’s time for Kimberly to . . .
Wendy's Final Grade = A-

Paperback edition is due out May 19


Lori said...

For example, I cannot listen to romance on audio. I can't do it. Because inevitably I hit a love scene, and no matter how tame or raunchy, I feel like a pervert. I can read the skankiest, sweatiest, dirtiest, nastiest sex on the printed page, but having someone "read" it to me? Um yeah, no can do.

Thank goodness this is not just me. I can read almost anything, but having someone else read it to me is just squirm inducing in a really bad way.

Barbara said...

I have a hard time with reading suspense novels that--although fiction--can really happen. The story can be wonderful, but sometimes I just can't past the "realness" of it all.

Oh and about audio books...I was never able to enjoy them. I tried a few by Johanna Lindsay but they just don't have the impact imop as reading the book.

Cathy in AK said...

I haven't listened to an audio book in a long while(and probably won't any time soon) but yeah, someone reading sex scenes aloud to me seems...squicky. Plus, chances are that's when one of my kids would wander into the room :P

Kids being hurt in books is tough to handle, but I enjoy Lisa Gardner's books and will look for this one.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I have a great love for Lisa's books, but this one was a tough one to read because of the molestation of children and the abuse.
She has a new one coming out soon. Can't wait!

Lori said...

Love her books. I've read up to read The Next Accident, which is Kimberly's dad's book. I need to read this one. I love a good suicky suspense.

Don't know how I'd feel about it on audio, though.

Wendy said...

Lori: I love audio books, and I really wish I could listen to romance (it would really put a serious dent in the ol' TBR). But I just can't do it. And believe me, I've tried. So now I use audio books as a way to keep up with my mystery/suspense reading.

Barbara: For me, audio books have been a good way to keep up with my mystery reading. Also, I've found they're great for books I know I'll never read. A prime example of this was when my BFF begged me to read White Oleander by Janet Fitch. In case anyone cares - the Recorded Books production of that one is very good.

Cathy: My older sister stopped being able to read "bad things happen to kids" books when she got pregnant. Pretty much sealed the deal for her. Say Goodbye is really very good, and I enjoyed it, but man - it's a tough one.

Katie: I think what surprised me was that I always got the impression that quite a few romance readers read Gardner. So I guess I wasn't expecting this book to be quite so...disturbing. On one of our bookstore excursions Rosie made me buy The Perfect Husband. It's languishing in the TBR around here somewhere.....

Lori: If you can handle bad things happening to kids, check this one out when it lands in paperback. I do recommend it!

Amie Stuart said...

i loved this book (and suspense in general) but I had the same issue you did--and I read it. Very disturbing...and kinda preachy!

I'd almost go so far as to say Sweetheart wasn't as scary.