Today I am reviewing Cane and Abe by James Grippando for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
About the book (from the publisher): Unbelievable was the word for her. Samantha Vine was unbelievably beautiful. It was unbelievable that she’d married me. It was even more unbelievable that she was gone…
Samantha died too soon. Abe Beckham’s new wife has helped him through the loss, but some say it was a step back for Abe to marry Angelina, a love from his past. Abe doesn’t want to hear it, and he’s even managed to remain a star prosecutor at the Miami State Attorney’s Office through his ups and downs.
Then everything goes wrong. A woman’s body is discovered dumped in the Everglades, and Abe is called upon to monitor the investigation. The FBI is tracking a killer in South Florida they call “Cutter” because his brutal methods hark back to Florida’s dark past, when machete-wielding men cut sugarcane by hand in the blazing sun.
When Angelina goes missing, the respected attorney finds himself under fire. Suspicion surrounds him. His closet friends, family, professional colleagues, and the media no longer trust his motives. Was Angelina right? Was their marriage not what they’d hoped for because he loved Samantha too much? Or was there another woman…and a husband with a dark side that simply wanted his new wife gone?
My review: The blurb above doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of what this book is about. There is a new wife, and a deceased wife, yes. And the second wife does go missing. But the mystery surrounding the serial killer, the FBI agent who doggedly pursues both the serial killer and Abe, the methods used in the ongoing investigation, both by Abe and the FBI, are a more accurate reflection of the bulk of the plot of Cain and Abe.
Here is my problem with the book. For much of the story, I was fairly engrossed in the plot, in the history of sugarcane cutting in South Florida, the battle between Abe and the FBI Agent who seemed to have Abe in her sights, in the author’s clear understanding of the law and the way prosecutors work. It was fairly compelling. Some things, like the disappearance of Angelina, the second wife, I didn’t take all that seriously because that particular plot device didn’t seem to ring true, given what I had read so far.
Then, right toward the end of the book, Grippando threw in a plot twist that made absolutely no sense to me. It was gratuitous, almost as if he lost his way toward the end of the novel and decided to go for something else. And another twist, right at the end of the novel, caused me to curse out loud. Ask my husband. I was not a happy camper.
I felt like I had been duped and not in a good way and I don’t like that. Listen: every novel, every mystery involves manipulation; manipulation of the plot, of the clues, of the characters – all done to further suspense. I get it. I usually love it. But it has to make sense. It has to be supported by everything the author has put in place. All that we’ve learned about a character or characters has to lead to a conclusion that makes sense based on what we’ve learned throughout the course of the novel. If the author hasn’t done enough to support that plot twist, that new realization, it all falls flat.
Hey, I love being shocked and surprised just as much as the next person. But only if I can go back through the novel and see all the little clues that perhaps I missed or didn’t realize were that important at the time, but all of which, in the end, made the plot twist make sense.
I’m calling this the “Gone Girl Syndrome.” It’s calculated. It’s been called daring. I am not a fan of Gone Girl. I’ve written about it here on this blog. I am not a fan of the purely calculated, and in the end, heartless plot device. It isn’t clever. It just leaves me very ticked off, and I feel like I’ve wasted hours and hours that I’ll never get back.
Clever solely for the sake of clever has no lasting appeal. It has no heart.
Anyway, if you liked Gone Girl, you might very well enjoy this novel. Grippando writes well. Unfortunately, the final pages of Cain and Abe left me feeling very unsatisfied. Up until then? I liked it.
About the author: James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels are enjoyed worldwide in twenty-six languages. Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon) and he is now counsel at one of the nation’s leading law firms. He lives and writes in South Florida.
If you are interested in exploring this mystery, leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win a copy of Cain and Abe. I’ll pick a winner on Friday evening.
New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page.