Think Twice, by Lisa Scottoline (Softcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Normally, I listen to Lisa Scottoline novels in audio format. The narrators do a great job with those Italian accents. I grew up with Italian accents, capice? This was my first time with one of these novels in paper format.
It's hard to believe the author of this book is the author of the others. There are two glaring reasons why:
- The plot strains credulity at many points. It's just not
believable. A reader can overlook one, maybe two instances of
implausible plot twist. But this book seemed to reply on those, and
that's just not solid writing. This book is not at Lisa Scottoline's
previous level of writing.
- The character Bennie Rosato that I've come to know is not the
Bennie Rosato in this book. It's not that the character grew or
changed in response to a challenge, which we readers can find
believable or even desirable. She's a different character, and not
one that seems to have a lot of sense. She appears to have been
written for the convenience of the plot. I'd rather this
relationship were the other way around.
The plot isn't plausible, but what is plausible is the author was aware of how weak (or farcical) this novel was, so she used some gimmicks instead of relying on solid writing.
For example, many chapters were only two pages long. There are 128 chapters in 371 pages. You read the first page of one chapter, and flip the page--you are looking at the next chapter. Pacing by chopping up the scenes into micro chunks strikes me as an act of desperation. It would have been better to focus on the actual writing. Fix the plot, and use the characters we have come to know so well. I'm not saying a character can't ever change, but what we're asked to believe in this novel just isn't believable.
A major implausibility is that Bennie's twin sister could impersonate her and fool Bennie's employees. These people are lawyers. They are highly educated people. They make their livings sorting through evidence and applying logic. Sure, one of the attorneys "thinks" there's something wrong but she can't convince her coworkers to even provide a basic test. It's hard to believe "whether to ascertain the facts" is even an issue. Especially considering the circumstances.
As a reader, I found myself wincing but still wanting to go on. What saved this book wasn't the use of micro-scenes. What saved it was the use of a few MacGuffins. I wanted to see how (or if) those were resolved. So, while this book is not at the quality we've come to expect from a Lisa Scottoline novel, it's still fairly entertaining.
And I do like a few things about the ending. These, the author made plausible. It is the getting to that point that really needs to be rethought and re-done in a revised version that meets the standards Lisa Scottoline has previously written to.
If you've not read a Lisa Scottoline novel yet, don't start with this one. It's not her best work. Start with Moment of Truth, or maybe Lady Killer. After you gain an appreciation for this outstanding author who usually does excellent work, then you may want to pick up this book.