Friday, October 28, 2011

Two by C.S. Lakin

Until recently, the only books by C.S. Lakin that I had read were a contemporary novel, Someone to Blame, and two of her fantasy novels – The Map Across Time and The Wolf of Tebron. She’s also written in a number of other genres. I just read two of her e-books this past week that would likely fall into the category of psychological suspense. The books are different – different stories, different themes and different plots. But they do have a number of things in common, including – interestingly enough – characters who struggle to become sympathetic.


In Conundrum, Lisa Sitteroff is watching her marriage fall apart, one brother increasingly bent on suicide, another brother who floats from job to job and relationship to relationship with a seeming dedication to making nothing last. And then there’s Ruth Sitteroff, their mother, who seems a character right out of Mommie Dearest.

Lisa’s father is dead, dying when she was a young child of what her mother describes as self-induced leukemia. It is Lisa’s father who sits at the heart of the story, as Lisa decides she wants to know the man who as her father. Her marriage falls apart and her husband leaves home; she and her mother have a major quarrel and falling out. And Lisa embarks on a journey, both physical and allegorical, to learn what she can about her father. And what she learns strips away both pretence and what has covered over lies and deceit.

Liss grows over the course of the book, She becomes more recognizable, more human and, gradually, more sympathetic and she unfolds the truth about her father, her mother and her brothers. The story ends well, but the reader stays tense getting there.

Innocent Little Crimes

Lila Carmichael has made it big (think Oprah-big) in television comedy. Her particular brand of comedy is rough, edgy, and often obscene. At the pinnacle of commercial success, she sends invitations for a weekend to her island getaway in the San Juan Islands near Seatlle to a group of old college friends, the group she worked with in the university’s theater.

It will be a weekend of reminiscences and revenge. And that’s the heart of Innocent Little Crimes.

For different reasons, all of the main characters are desperate enough to believe that Lila will be their lifeline and salvation. They, and Lila, are painted in extremely negative terms – it almost reaches the point where the reader wants revenge to wreaked upon the all, throw them over the cliff, and let’s go home. Two of the minor characters – the fiancé of Lila’s leading man in college and Lila’s gay assistant – provide the only relief from a cast of really rotten people.

As the story progresses, the reader learns what is motivating Lila, and what happened on the night that the university acting group staged William Inge’s “Picnic” that led years later to Lila’s revenge. (I need to note that the novel contains a few graphic scenes and strong language.)

The story is believable, but it is heavy. The reader knows from the beginning that one person is going to die, and Lakin keeps the guessing lively as to which one deserves it the most.
It is a dark tale.


My review of The Wolf of Tebron.

My review of The Map Across Time.

My review of Someone to Blame.

1 comment:

Monika said...

Looking forward to reading Conundrum. Thanks.