Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Disappointed New Scottoline Reader

I've just finished reading my first Lisa Scottoline novel, Daddy's Girl. Friends have raved about what a wonderful writer she is and, because she is local and many of said friends have met her, about what a nice person she is. I don't doubt the latter, but my first foray into her oevre was disappointing.

I'm not saying this in a petty, writerly way (though even Darling Spouse acknowledges that her secondary characters are pretty two-dimensional) but because she can't keep her crime scene straight. One must admit that in a mystery, not remembering whose chest the knife was in is pretty sloppy.

I read an excerpt in the Philadelphia Inquirer and thought it looked interesting, so I bought the book. Early on, our heroine encounters a crime scene: a prison inmate has stabbed a guard, or so it appears. The inmate is dead ("A muscle-bound African American inmate lay curled next to the C.O., blood soaking his T-shirt,") and the C.O. has "...the homemade metal knife protruding grotesquely from his chest." Our heroine "...even knew to leave the knife in place."

Later on, another C.O., the victim's best friend, describes the events: "Next thing I know, he pulls a shoe shank.. and he stabs Ron [the dead C.O.] in the chest...Then he tries to stab me, and we fought, and I was able to turn it on him." I'm not even a particularly experienced mystery reader, but I figure at this point the guy is lying, so I wait to see how he gets caught. But later on, our heroine visits the family of the dead inmate and "...relives the gruesome scene. [The inmate] lying on the floor, the metal blade sticking from his chest." Now that's sloppy editing, pure and simple. If it were anything less than one of the, oh, KEY SCENES IN THE BOOK, it wouldn't make much difference. As it is, it was quite a disappointment.

That was the big thing. The little thing was just annoying: It's about a character and a VW Beetle. No mention of whether it was an Old or New Beetle; no problem. But then our heroine "...grabs the strap..." when the driver is going too fast. Aha: Old Beetle. But then they get sideswiped into the guardrail and THE AIRBAGS DEPLOY. No airbags in an Old Beetle, and no side airbags in the New Beetle (ie, the front airbags wouldn't deploy in a side-swipe collision.)

So my question for all you devoted Lisa Scottoline fans out there is this: has she just gotten lazy as the best-sellers pile up, or does she do the same kinds of things in her earlier works? Bottom line: is it worth reading more of her stuff, or just chalk her up as another sorry example of the stuff that manages to get published these days?

Thanks in advance for your input.


At Wed Apr 25, 05:21:00 PM, Anonymous difficultpt said...

Never read here . . . but I have to agree with you that details matter.

At Wed Apr 25, 05:22:00 PM, Anonymous difficultpt said...

her . . . I meant her. lmao--so much for my details! I wonder if an editor would have caught that . . . ;o)

At Wed Apr 25, 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Alyson said...

I'm a big fan of mystery novels and she has never been a favorite of mine. I would say to pass.

Love, Alyson

At Wed Apr 25, 09:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are pretty big mistakes. I wouldn't waste time or money reading another book by somebody who does that.

At Wed Apr 25, 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Lynn Price said...

Hmm...good reviews by PW and Booklist. She's been writing a long time and has a faithful following. And THAT'S why she continues to be pubbed. I don't read mysteries and don't know this author. But I will say that it hurts the heart at the dreg that gets pubbed, but as long as it makes money it'll get on the shelves.

Okay, that snaps it, I really have to order your book!

At Thu Apr 26, 12:41:00 AM, Blogger jmb said...

I usually read her and read this one a few weeks ago. I find her books quite mixed, this one not so good. She definitely had problems keeping the story straight. She's not an author I buy, although I buy many others-- always borrow her from the library.
Wow, a book review. That's really mixing it up.

At Thu Apr 26, 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I've read a book and listened via audiotape one or three of her books. I read a lot of the mystery/detective genre and she's nothing special. She'd do for listening while I weeded the garden or read on a 5 hour flight...but nobody I check for their next publication with anticipation. But James Lee Burke? I can't wait for his next publication.

At Fri Apr 27, 10:39:00 AM, Blogger oncRN said...

if you want good mystery writing, try Sandra Scoppettone - she also blogs about writing at

At Sat Apr 28, 02:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer Tami Hoag, Sandra Brown, Harlan Coben, and Karin Slaughter over Scottoline. I've read one or two of Scottoline's books and while an okay read (as in if I'm on a plane or otherwise bored they're not too bad), it seemed a bit 'watered down' compared to the others I read. Though she's better than Iris Johannsen (who also has a huge following), whose stories are all dialogue or internal head-stuff.


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