Archive for November, 2011

Review: Palace of Justice

Palace of Justice
Palace of Justice by Susanne Alleyn
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

It’s no secret that I adore this series. Alleyn has done a masterfully creative job of integrating a well-paced series of intricate mysteries into the politically vibrant and sensually dismal period of post-Revolution Paris. You can see, smell, and taste the teeming streets and cloying chambers as brooding pseudo-detective Aristide Ravel makes his way through suspects and informants, burdened with such oppressive baggage of his own that we sometimes wonder if he’ll wind up on the other side of the law. (I love a good antihero with a heart of gold.)

The reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars lies in the lack of development of one important relationship, that of Ravel and his longtime friend, Mathieu Alexandre. Having read the books out of chronological order (the way they were published—oh, that’s so wrong!), I knew that Mathieu, especially within the period of events that takes place in this book, would become part of Ravel’s ever-growing burden of guilt, shame, and regrets, and I looked forward to seeing their relationship in action. I was disappointed. They could have been casual acquaintances.

Other than that, this book, like the others, did not disappoint. It provided the wonderful twists and turns that I fell in love with while reading the rest of the series.

Now, I am sad. I have no more Ravel mysteries to read.

To anyone who plans to read the series, I recommend devouring them in chronological order, and so does the author. Here they are, from Susanne Alleyn’s wonderful website:

Aristide Ravel Mysteries:

The Cavalier of the Apocalypse
Book 1 of the Ravel Mysteries

As I said, I read them as they were published, which means in the following order: 3, 4, 1, 2. Go figure. It did not matter so much in the end; I had Ravel’s every move memorized, so I could easily fit the puzzle pieces together. But I plan to reread the books in order in the future.

Mystery and history buffs everywhere, you’ll enjoy these novels immensely! And then you can join me in the fervent hope that we’ll all see Aristide Ravel again soon.

Before I Go to Sleep
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christine wakes up each morning not knowing who is she, where she is, or when she is … some trauma has impeded her ability to make and keep memories. But then the mysterious stranger lying next to her explains he’s her husband, and he shows her pictures, and he walks her through the house that she comes to understand is her home — at least for that day, until she sleeps again.

In the course of each day, Christine finds out more and more about herself. She has been seeing a doctor. He calls to remind her that she’s been keeping a journal.  She reads it and finds out what has been happening and what she has discovered.  And soon, she unravels some unsettling ideas.  Besides that, she’s having flashes of memory.  And they don’t seem to coincide with some things she’s being told. Can she figure it out and write it all down before she goes to sleep?

Despite some dissatisfaction voiced in the reviews of others — that there were plot holes (there were a few) and that the outcome was predicted long before the reveal — I really enjoyed reading this book, and that’s why I read for leisure: to enjoy! The pace was excellent, the writing crisp, and the characters interesting enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Like others, I guessed early on that some people were not really who they said they were … but I suspended my disbelief and got a payoff with the “Hollywood thriller” ending (which I know some did not like either — but you know I’m a movie girl, so it worked for me). Definitely glad I read it!

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