Coming soon.....

What I'm reading now: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther Novels) by Phillip Kerr

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Weeping Buddha

Happy New Year! The Weeping Buddha was a fitting book for the holidays as it revolves around two incidents that occurred on wonderful New Year’s Eve. The first incident is based on the author’s true-life experience, the disappearance of a friend from a New Year’s Eve party in the 1980’s, and who is never ever seen again. The second incident is the murder of a Hamptons power couple, a well-known artist and his professional dancer wife, Beka. Devon Halsey, a detective for Suffolk County Homicide and our protagonist was Beka’s best friend, and is put in the difficult position of grieving her friend’s death as well as trying to find her and her husband’s killer. The murder scene leads to the initial impression that Beka murdered her husband then killed herself but Devon doesn’t believe this scenario. Tying back to the early story, Devon and Beka had been part of a crowd of friends living in a loft in New York City in the 80’s and were the last people to see their friend Todd Daniels before he disappeared into the night for good. The friends were haunted by his disappearance for the next 18 years and on the night of her death Beka called Devon to talk about Todd. Along with detective Lochwood Brennan, also Ms. Halsey’s lover, Devon searches for the real perpetrator, investigating old friends and the couples’ numerous associates, and begins to believe that Todd Daniel’s disappearance is tied to the current murders.

Both stories are great mysteries in and of themselves and I could not wait to see how they would be intertwined. The resolution however doesn’t live up to the hype. This is a warning, there is some spoiler info coming…. if you don’t want to read it skip to the next paragraph…For one thing I am not a fan of serial killer stories unless they begin as just that, a series of crimes, like Michael Connelley’s Echo Park and The Poet. I found the eventual discovery that murdered is a serial killer and a friend of Devon’s kind of silly. How many friends do you have who kill other people for a hobby/art? I also thought there were certain revelations in the book that deserved more fanfare, I couldn’t be sure at some points whether the detectives were just ruminating on possible discoveries or if they had just put the actual pieces of the puzzle together. The book also devolves into a sort of And Then There Were None premise with a hokey night gathering of all the suspects and a fourth murderer that doesn’t altogether fit the storyline. Towards then end you can almost guess the killer's identity because it must be the person you least suspect, right? Right, it is. I also felt too many interesting storylines were left hanging about many of the suspects explored. Lastly, I wasn’t impressed with the romance between the main characters, it was a bit too flowery for my tastes and bogged down the story.

I realize I’m ripping up this book without mentioning that I couldn’t put it down. Despite all its flaws it was a page-turner, one you want to finish fast because it is written with an enthralling style. Ms. Macadam obviously wrote about things she knows well, the book is full of vivid descriptions of people and places. I loved the descriptions of New York in the 1980’s; as a former New York City dweller it reminded me of all the fantastic nooks and crannies of the city. Overall I would recommend this book if you want a more fluffy romance/mystery novel, but probably tell those looking for hard-boiled crime fiction to pass.