Meredith's Secret - Michael Champoux

I read this book through once and had several issues with the book - so I put it aside and then read it through a few months later. The exact same issues stood out, so I felt it fair enough to mention them. First, let's praise the good aspects of the book. I really enjoyed the characterizations. The descriptions of the people were very well done. A number of different locations were mentioned, and each had its own character. From the many police novels I've read, the details seemed accurate. There were minor little details that struck me as odd - the heroine's in shorts and a tshirt, "neither of which looked like it had seen an iron in the recent past." Does anybody iron their shorts and tshirts?? That one had me laughing out loud on both reads. She gets a threat and doesn't immediately call the cops? That's tiny, though, compared to the main issue - there are just too many characters, many essentially "minor" but all described in detail. You have to juggle 25-30 characters, keeping track of each one, because you can't tell which are integral to the main storyline. I've read many books with casts of characters, but even reading this twice through, it still strikes me as being overly full. Two of the main characters are Eve, whose husband gets murdered, and her male friend Mike. The murder is given away on the back of the book so I don't feel badly mentioning this in the review. Since this doesn't happen until page 49 I wish they hadn't revealed it ahead of time. Be that as it may, I really didn't like either of these two characters, so it became hard for me to root for them as the rest of the story unfolded. Eve and her younger sis had their father run out on them when they were teenagers. Their mom became an alcoholic. Eve takes care of the family for 4 years until she gets out of high school - then she abandons them for, judging by the timeline, at least 11 years. She's completely in another state and doesn't visit. During that entire time her sister is home caring for the alcoholic mom - and yet Eve says her sister is selfish for asking for help or money every once in a while. It really bothered me a lot. Mike bothered me *hugely* as well. He seemed like a creepy stalker. One with little honor and only caring about the money, quite willing to put "his love" at great risk to get his hands on it. The ending of the book was disappointing to me. Again, I put the book aside and read it again after a few months, just to make sure it wasn't just the mood I was in when I read it. I felt the exact same way on the second reading. I really enjoy the writing style, the skill at characterizations, and the general storyline. I understand completely that this is the author's first work and that writers grow and mature as they go. I would love to read this author's next work, and maybe the characters he chooses to write about the next time around will be more appealing to me.

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