Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review of novel: Small Town Lies by Charlie Hudson

We all have our own taste in books and read for a variety of reasons – mostly to learn and grown and be entertained, I suspect. As one who has reviewed books and made my living as a writer, I am perhaps more critical than some. That said, AQS sent me a review copy of Small Town Lies written by Charlie (Charlotte) Hudson.

Set in a small Georgia town that is ‘stuck in time’ as the Baltimore-born-and-raised-deputy Justin, described it, the story unfolds around a murder, thus I would suspect this to be a murder mystery. Gabe, the town lothario, is dead. The women all have fond memories of how Gabe gave them back their womanhood and the men all hate him for interfering with their women…. We are led to believe that Gabe is actually an insatiable romantic and a good guy. But some jealous husband probably had enough and finished him off. We follow this premise through three-fourths of the book as Justin who married Helen Crowder’s daughter (as the town folk refer to him) leads the investigation.

Much of the book is filled with senseless details. It is much like a tour of a museum. In this room, Helen has decorated using furniture that she purchased from an estate sale. Or we are told that the placemats were part of a hope chest collection. Helen Crowder, by the way is the ‘Steel Magnolia’ and hometown woman who knows ALL of the gossip and history and tales of the community. She is the main protagonist and she is practically a saint. So loved and so generous and so wise....

Virginia (Gabe’s mother) made a Celebration of Gabe quilt with all kinds of details included in it and we are privy to each detail. Now most mystery readers would be piecing together these details, trying to find their relevance. Let me put your mind at ease – there is no relevance. They are just self-indulgent ramblings from an author who thinks her audience would like to know every detail of the décor….

And if you think this is a murder mystery – you would be wrong. After wading through most of the book it is revealed that viola there are details we were not privy to.

The writing does not sing, but is easy to follow. The plot is rather vague. And the story line takes a decided leap off of a cliff instead of tying up the loose ends into a satisfying conclusion. The characters never quite come to life and the quilting aspects are quite superficial and not at all satisfying.

I’m sorry to say that when I discovered the cause of death, I wanted to throw the book across the room. I felt so cheated! I have read worse books, but I have most definitely read better. Apparently it is more difficult than I would have believed to write an engaging and entertaining and well-written book that involves quilting. Still, I live in hope.
I can't recommend investing in this book. I wish I could.


Randal said...

This is cool!

Westend Quilter said...

Love reading an honest review! Thanks.
By the way, Raymond Houston has closed his blog on Tesselation Nation and now is blogging on http://nachograndmasquilts.com/

Mary Haley said...

Well darn it. I was all ready to go buy the stupid book as the beginning sounded so promising. At least now I know better and I can save my money on something that is a lot better. Thanks so much for letting us know!
Mary H.