Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It takes only an instant for a bullet to split the air and steal a life

No thank you, this book.
Caroline Cashion is a professor of French lit living a quiet, introverted life. The back of the book describes her as intelligent. Though I'm thinking the intelligence is tied to her knowledge of French lit cos she does a lot of really stupid things/jumps to a lot of stupid conclusions in other areas of her life. She's also described as "beautiful". On the first page she describes herself as "pretty enough" but then throughout the book she's compared to Salma Hayek and Nigella Lawson and men are constantly calling her ravishing and at one point she calls herself an "aging but still regal homecoming queen" and
ANYWAY. She's been experiencing pain in her wrist and eventually gets an MRI done which shows an unusual object lodged in her neck. This turns out to be a bullet and you'd think that would cause some more issues with the MRI but you're going to need to suspend a lot of disbelief for this one.

She begins digging and it turns out she's actually adopted and her birth parents were killed while she was left for dead at the age of three. The murders were never solved and it was decided to make a clean break and have her adopted into another family without telling her anything about her past. This knowledge leads her on a journey down to Atlanta to try to find out what happened and see if she can get some closure. But it seems that someone really doesn't want her to solve the murder. Probably the murderer.

Here's the thing: the story is fine. It's not great, it's fairly standard thriller type stuff (except the ending which takes a weird turn before wandering back to fairly predictable paths) but Caroline is just. Ugh.* She talks about not knowing anything about Atlanta despite having apparently lived there for "several years". Except she was adopted and left the whole state when she was about 3, so I wouldn't exactly call it several years living there and why would she expect to remember stuff about the place? She exaggerates a lot, to the point where I was like "Right, you need to calm down." Would you like another example? Why sure!

She's talking to the very prim and proper head of the French department about the bullet in her neck and the news that her birth parents were murdered and the case never solved.
"But the bullet in your neck might be evidence, n'est-ce pas?" The perfect eyebrow show up. "Merde. Quel bordel. C'est dingue."My jaw dropped. Madame Aubuchon had just uttered a vulgarity that, loosely translated, meant something along the lines of "Shit, what a goddamn mess."
IF her jaw was dropping over who was doing the (as-seen-on-basic-cable) cursing, FINE. Her reaction would make sense. Except a couple pages later we get this:
At home that evening, I kicked off my shoes and collapsed on the sofa. It would be hard to pinpoint which of the day's events I found most unsettling. The news that Dr. Gellert's office had illegally been entered and my chart was missing? The revelation that my elderly boss could outcurse a Marseilles dockworker?
Or maybe I'm vastly overestimating the cursing prowess of Marseilles dockworkers.

Look, I realize that's a stupid thing, and if the rest of the book hadn't been similarly eye-rolly, I probably would have let it go. But instead, it's a lot of her saying things that make equal amounts of sense. Except everyone thinks she's brilliant.

This was a Just The Right Book selection and unfortunately, this was not just the right book (HA, I'm hilarious). It's not a terrible book. It's engaging enough, if you can suspend disbelief and not get distracted by details that don't make too much sense. Because listen, some of those details bugging me are minor and could be overlooked. Not if you're me, apparently, but others could and I'm sure would enjoy the book.

Gif rating:
*I'm having trouble finding a quote from the title of this post, since apparently all of the lines I highlighted were about something that annoyed me. Other examples: she has a researcher help her locate her family, except Caroline manages to get a hold of her BPs social security numbers and fails to share that information with the researcher. The researcher she also promises herself that she'll split a large sum of money with, but forgets about that when the money actually shows up. The book also ignores things such as "statute of limitations" on crimes like rape. (Something I apparently Googled so I could tell the book it was wrong. It's 15 years, according to whatever I found.) The fact that a fragment of a bullet that's been lodged in someone's body for a few decades probably doesn't have any useable forensic evidence anymore, so maybe that shouldn't be such a huge plot point. So many things.

Title quote from page 353

Kelly, Mary Louise. The Bullet. Gallery Books, 2015