My aunt and uncle (not technically, but pretty much I consider them that way) recently joined forces to recommend a new book to me, The Poet. OK, actually it wasn’t recently. It was last October.
You see, The Poet falls under three genres that I almost never read: mystery, thriller, and crime. I’m not sure what it is about these types of books that has always kept me running to the opposite end of the store. I told myself that the “thrill” that thrillers were supposed to bring could be better communicated through movies. Then one day I realized that I get too scared in thriller movies to watch them much. So theoretically, having a book that I could shut in the freezer when it’s too, well, thrilling could be just the thing. So I’m diving in with one that’s guaranteed to be good (and apparently won the 1997 Anthony word for Best Novel).
I’ve only made it through the first several pages, but I already have a few concerns. First, Jack (the main character) has an (apparently murdered) brother named Sean. This in and of itself is fine. But his cop nickname is “Mac.” Really? Couldn’t it have been something a little less stereotypical?
The first lines of the book itself bother me a little too: “Death is my beat. I make a living from it.” It’s an attention-grabber, make no mistake, but it also sounds a little corny. However, I like Jack as a reporter. Many character reporters have these really lofty journalistic ideas (Unless they’re women. More often, the women get the idea to sleep with their sources, which is a whole other beef of mine). Not Jack; Jack seems disillusioned with his own profession, and he is aware of the way media can build on itself. Take a gander at his description of coverage of the character Theresa Lofton:The Theresa Lofton murder was inevitably compared to the Black Dahlia case of fifty years ago in Los Angeles. In that case, a not so All-American Girl was found severed at the midriff in an empty lot. A tabloid television show dubbed Theresa Lofton the White Dahlia, playing on the fact that she had been found on a snow-covered field near Denver’s Lake Grassmere. And so the story fed on itself. It burned as hot as a trash-can fire for almost two weeks. — The Poet, by Michael Connelly
Jack’s grizzled feel might not be original, but his disillusionment with journalism itself is.
So as I start this book, I think I have reason to be hopeful. I’ll cross your fingers … and read!