Thirty years later, Laura's best friend, Tish Verdure, returns to Duluth to write a book about Laura's death. Tish knows secrets about Cindy that leave Stride questioning his entire past.
©2009 Brian Freeman; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"[M]ay be his most ambitious - and accomplished - work to date....Powered by darkly poetic atmospherics and deep character development, this harrowing and heartrending novel will leave readers guessing until the very last pages." (Publishers Weekly)
Laura Starr is brutally murdered. 30 years later Tish Verdure, Laura's closest friend, returns to Duluth to write a novel, "Who Killed Laura Starr?" This story within a story is told from the point of view of Laura's sister, Cindy. The books go back and forth until eventually "Who Killed Laura Starr?" is abandoned. It is difficult to determine if this is with intent or not. The central character in both books is Jonathan Stride, husband to Cindy. Jon was there at the murder and typical of a small town is enlisted by Ray Wallace, the sheriff, to help with the murder investigation. This puts Jon on his career path and he eventually becomes a detective in Duluth. When Tish returns, she speaks to Jon first and Jon unofficially reopens the case on the strength of evidence that Tish withheld. This is the first of multiple secrets that abide within the adults who were teenagers at the time of the murder. They are revealed slowly and substantially impact a family who never even heard of Laura. The drama of Clark and his daughter, Mary, who is developmentally disabled, draws the listener further into the web. Clark is key to solving the mystery. The ending is somewhat unexpected and quite sad. Freeman does not allow everyone to live happily ever after; although some characters do. There is a scene at the end which requires the listener to suspend belief because it's a little beyond the pale, but forgivable. Don't buy this book if you are looking for tons of action. You will be disappointed. The book is a cold case and the investigation is slow. Most of the action is at the end. Character development, intricate relationships, and inequities within the criminal justice system are the primary pieces of this book. The mystery does get solved, but in its own time.
Let me start with this: any reader who doesn't know how to pronounce "Ole" -- as in 'Ole and Lena jokes' -- has no business reading a Minnesota book.
But second, if the reader had parodied African American accents like he does Minnesota accents, he'd be charged with unmitigated racism. The reading is way beyond atrocious. The caricatures are embarrassing and insulting to everyone from the Upper Midwest -- his rendition of North Dakota farmers is even worse. Fortunately, they have fewer lines.
The book itself? I love reading Freeman's books because I know the locale and remember it with fondness. That's what I'll do in the future -- read the books.
I imagine Brian Freeman himself is tearing his hair out over this assault and battery on his work.
Not a thrilling thriller. The characters failed to engage my interest--I couldn't care about any of them. The narrator, while adequately capturing the Minnesota accent, detracted from the story. His voices for the female characters were especially grating, making them sound developmentally challenged. Most of the action sequences came off as ridiculously melodramatic, and the "romantic" passages were just cringe-inducing. Very amateurish.
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