Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Portrait in Wicker

The author of Portrait in Wicker wrote that she penned this short novel in two months. Unfortunately, it reads like it was done in two weeks. The basic premise of the plot, centering around a bigger-than-life child pornography ring with the protagonist as one of its earliest rescued victims, is worthy of Grisham or Connelly. The craft here is not. While there are some nice twists in the story, some were just silly and coincidental beyond belief. The protagonist seemed more interested in coffee, and later sleep, as though the author figured these made for significant character traits. They did not. The flat characters could have used deeper brush strokes rather than the psychology 101 that was painted here for some seriously afflicted good and bad people.

I sensed little understanding of how the FBI or police actually do their job. Also, evidence is kept in a chain-of-custody not a chain-of-command. Silly errors like this cropped up all of the time, along with numerous grammatical issues above my usually forgiving threshold. A host of civilians would not make up the kind of impromptu FBI/police/victims/judges SWAT squad in the way they were portrayed in the book with the psychologist protagonist seemingly running most of the show. And the ending made no sense whatsoever. "This is the story xxxx told me in his own words. Of course he thought I wouldn't be around to tell anyone, that I would be dead...." Hey, nice way to ruin the ending and suck the tension out of the story as the second banana bad guy spills his guts for no good reason.

There is much repetition. The ending dragged on, and when the ultimate bad guy was revealed, it wasn’t plausible. Where was all the "deep" psychological justification for the really bad guy to erect such an empire of evil as there was for the second banana bad guy? And there was no real reason to believe that this person could even pull it off, in secret, for all these years, while holding down a stressful full-time job. I nearly put this book down several times, but forged on. The author should remove this book, work on it for a year, and give the premise a story to match it. This is a "2".

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