Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review - Meg Gardiner's First Standalone

I have just finished my last ARC (advanced reading copy).  It's #9, and I'm looking forward to catching up with "my authors."  I still have James Grippando, Robert Harris, David Baldacci, and Philip Margolin, among others, sitting in a pile in my closet.  But enough about my future reading plans.

Meg Gardiner's Ransom River, published by Dutton, a division of Penguin Group (USA),  is my first exposure to her writing.  This is book #10 for her and her first standalone.  It's due to be published on July 3.  Getting right to it, it's the story of a juror in a murder trial that is in session when 2 gunmen take over the courtroom.  For those of us who lived in Northern California back in the '70's, we remember when gunmen took over a courtroom in Marin County, and 4 people died. This evokes memories of that tragedy.

This story takes place in a small town in Southern California.  Rory MacKenzie has just returned to Ransom River after being gone for 2 years, following an accident that changed the lives of many of her family and friends.  She is impaneled to be a juror in the murder trial of 2 local policemen (1 woman, 1 man) who are being charged with the murder of a teenage boy who caught them in flagrante delicto (you didn't know that I knew Latin, did you?).  Of course, there is so much more going on than just the courtroom drama.  There's a bank heist from 25 years before.  There's an aunt and uncle on 2nd marriages, each with an adult child.  There's a local "businessman" whose son is the one that was killed and who has plenty of muscle to intimidate the residents.  It's a very intricate story.

Stephen King compared her to Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, and Nelson DeMille.  I haven't read Grafton or Evanovich, have read a couple of Connelly's, and thoroughly enjoy Child and most of DeMille.  From what I do know of these authors, I don't think I really agree with King (how bold - and foolish - is that?!).  I would liken her more to George Pelecanos.  They both write stories with intricate plots.

In one of my early blogs, I created a "B List" of authors.  These are authors that I make a point of reading all of their books.  Some of them are Grippando, Margolin, Michael Palmer, David Rosenfelt, John Lescroart, and John Darnton (refer to my blog from 2/13/11).  They are not Harlan Coben, Greg Iles, Tom Rob Smith, John Hart, Vince Flynn, or Daniel Silva.  But they're still enjoyable reads.  I would put Meg Gardiner on the "B List."  There is no shame in being on this list.  There are so many authors who don't even make it that far.  Sucks to be them!

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