Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: Absolute Fear, Lost Souls

I got Absolute Fear from my local Half Price Books clearance rack, and swapped Lost Souls with a local fellow bibliophile.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

Lisa Jackson has written a continuity, set in and around New Orleans, both pre- and post-Katrina.  The first book in this continuity, Shiver, I've either not read, or read long enough ago that I don't remember it.  Absolute Fear revisits the asylum established in Shiver, and revolves around a murder investigation.  This investigation ends with a police officer's daughter waking from a coma, and kept me reading avidly.  That said, I have some notes cribbed on a Post-It, so that I could write my review, but don't remember many details.  Can't spoil the plot for you that way, can I.  LOL

First note: either the author or her editors had trouble with the terms black and african-american.  African-american is more politically correct today, but frankly, I come down on the black side.  I'm white, black people are black.  I don't really understand why we have to be so darn milquetoast to live in our society.  And who cares what color someone is, anyway?  I digress.  My note was that the author should pick one and stick to it.  Both were used often enough that I noticed it, and wrote it down.  Lost Souls didn't have this problem, as I recall distinctly that various people in the police departments are referred to as african-american.

Second note: many of us have watched enough cop shows that we know what a BOLO is, at least in context.  It's an acronym, standing for Be On the LookOut.  Only in this book, it's parenthetically defined as Be On the Lookout For.  So, in this book, BOLO is BOLF.  Yes, that took me out of the story enough to scribble it on my sticky note. 

Third note: a car was called a Carmengia.  Unless I miss my guess, this is a Karmann Ghia, an old Volkswagen model.  I remember thinking, "Seriously?  They can't even make sure to spell a car model name properly?"  I have since done some research and found many places online where it is spelled incorrectly, as shown above, so maybe someone did some lazy research and just picked the first website that came up on a search.  Call me a purist.  Things that are named after people and places should be spelled properly.

Lost Souls starts with Kristi Bentz (the girl who awoke from a coma in Absolute Fear) packing up the car to leave home.  She's decided to work on her education some, toward the goal of becoming a true-crime writer, and has enrolled in a not-quite-local private college.  Of course, part of making that choice included knowing that four girls had gone missing over the last year and a half, and she hopes to solve that mystery while she's attending classes, and then use that to write her first book.

When she gets there, several unpleasant surprises await her, among them that one of her instructors is someone she knew in the past, very well. 

Lisa Jackson creates great suspense, with odd secondary and tertiary characters, as well as wonderful descriptions of the college buildings and surroundings.  It's easy to understand how Kristi gets creeped out just about every time she walks out the door.

Some of the minutiae of attending college classes in a small town drags a little, though it's very little.  The mystery unfolds, piece by piece, and Kristi and her criminology professor, Jay, run down clues and research people and places.  I enjoyed this book a lot, and found the Kristi's efforts to avoid Jay, then build a new relationship with him, believable.

I did not see the twists coming, and that always makes a book better for me, if I haven't figured out the ending after the first two chapters. 

This gets a solid Very Good, and I look forward to another Lisa Jackson thriller set in this locale.  Since this was published in 2009, I just have to get out there and find it on a shelf somewhere.