Review: Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


There’s your one-word review. And I defy you to find anyone who’s read this book and disagrees. My wife listened to the audio-book version, and that’s the word she kept saying over and over as she was trying to get me to read it. Her sister, too. I do like a good atmospheric piece, a well-wrought tone. So rather than wait for the literally hundreds of people waiting for the book ahead of me at the library, I shelled out ten bucks and tossed it onto my e-reader.

Which ended up being both good and bad. I’m not sure the experience was worth ten bucks. But then I’m glad I didn’t let months of anticipation build up into an even greater disappointment. I plowed through Behind Closed Doors because I wanted to get it over with, and I’m glad it’s over now.

Not just because it’s creepy and made me feel uncomfortable. Rather, I didn’t care of B.A. Paris’s prose style. It contained all of the things we find dull about exposition and managed to achieve that even in dialogue and active description. When the characters spoke it was so structured and wrought, completely unnatural. I understand we readers need to bring a willingness to suspend our disbelief, it was difficult to do so. I was too distracted by the robotic language.

And while I appreciate the need for pacing, the book’s Past/Present device of telling the story in a non-linear fashion meant I knew what was going to happen before I got to the end, which stripped away all pretense of suspense. Again, the whole thing came across as purposefully-built, not organically grown.

All that said, I’ll mention something I did appreciate: there was a character in the novel’s beginning that I couldn’t stand, who ended up being a fairly decent person at the end. So there’s that.

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Review: The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza

The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza
The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza by Lawrence Block
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finished this a few days ago but haven’t been able to think of much to say. Bernie burgles, someone gets murdered, Bernie uses his lockpicking skills to hunt down clues, doesn’t tell the reader anything, gathers everyone in one place and reveals whodunnit.

Its satisfying in its way, neat and tidy, the kind of book that people who devour books can pop in their craw and masticate and move on from. I mean, to keep the food analogy going, Lawrence Block isn’t cooking at The Four Seasons but he’s not slinging hash at a greasy spoon, either. You won’t get a belly ache after reading this book, you’re not going to need any Maalox.

My mom used to read two or three romance novels a day, and if she was a mystery reader, this would be the sort of thing she’d get through. I guess what I’m getting at here is a kind of aesthetic that has nothing to do with the plot of this 4th burglar novel. I mean, who cares what the plot is, right? These books kind of write themselves.

At least they do in the hands of a skilled pensmith. Don’t get me wrong, these are competent reads. Quick, fun, easy. And if I need to say something about this one in particular- the Spinoza stuff? Completely unnecessary. A sprig of parsley on the side of the plate.

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