Saturday, May 9, 2015

#Book #Review -- Pleasantville


In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win.

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, he's ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville—a hamlet for upwardly-mobile blacks on the north side of Houston—Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.


Needless to say, I was so excited when I found out one of my favorite authors had wrote a new book.  In fact, I discovered this by total accident and of all places on Facebook for God’s sake, so I researched further to make absolutely sure Attica did, indeed, write a new book.  You can’t believe half the things you see on social media, and I wasn’t taking any chances.  I immediately went on Amazon. . .and BAM!  There it was!  OMG, I was too happy!  I didn’t hesitate.  My finger depressed the Download Now button and it’s a wrap!  Oh, and did I mention, when I have a favorite author, I don’t hesitate to pay whatever they’re asking for their download version.  This novel carried a $12.99 price tag.  No biggie ‘cause this is Attica. And she also writes for the hit show, Empire 

Ok, so imagine my surprise as I begin reading that I’m struggling to get through it.  At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong?  I’ve read all her books and always loved them, so what was the problem?  After having read Black Water Rising, which was an outstanding read, I was all too happy to revisit attorney-at-law, Jay Porter.  Quite a lot had changed in fifteen years.  His daughter is now a teenager and he has a younger son, which if memory serves me, I believe Ben was a little baby at that time. (Please note, those fifteen years aged within the story, that’s not how long it has been since Attica’s last novel).  Jay’s life had changed drastically in that time period, so much so, I was feeling his pain as if it were mine.  

Jay was held a hero for bringing down Cole Oil and he was still riding high off of that win, although he was beginning to sour on the current case he had pending.  While fighting and dealing with a new beast threatening the lives of his new clients literally, a young girl is found dead during Election Night.  This hit a little too close to home having a young teen himself.  Who on earth would want this young teen dead?  Now Jay is faced with another dilemma.  Someone on the campaign trail is accused of this young lady’s murder.  Several of the political players have called upon Jay for his expertise and literally begging him to help defend the young man accused of this crime.  Well, that is, one political figure in particular seeks out Jay’s assistance for his nephew, who is the one being accused of the heinous act.  There’s murder, mayhem and political tug-of-wars so what’s not to love about this story, you ask?

I’ve pondered over that very thing and I have to tell you, I had several problems with this story.  The first and foremost being it was entirely too detailed, to the point it became rather frustrating to concentrate on the story itself.  Attica is known for her detail-oriented writing, which for the most part, I really enjoy, but she truly overdid it in this one.  This novel reads like a screenplay or script for a movie, wherein you’d need to know where a character enters and exits stage left, but when you’re writing a novel, it isn’t necessary to place all those intricate details into it. 

My second problem with the story is it was too well written.  I know, I know that sounds absolutely insane, but let me explain.  This book was so well written to the point I could find nothing wrong with it.  There wasn’t one grammatical error, everything was so perfect—too perfect, if you will.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to deduct points for shoddy editing, but when you write a book this perfect, one tends to not invest much time into the characters.  It’s like who the hell cares about them?  And that’s what upset me so because I truly respect and love this author so much.  I absolutely found myself getting pissed with the overdoing of detail and the perfectness of the story.  It got to the point I truly didn’t care about Jay, his issues and/or struggles and anything else.  There was entirely too much detail and that drove me absolutely bonkers. 

As an avid reader, we’ll tell you, the author must set up the story, so detail is needed then, and once we get where the story is going, our movie reel begins to advance in the mind’s eye.  I don’t need the author to continually interrupt the flow of what my mind is processing with what a person wore; to how the weather looked and smelled; to the rips in fabric; the aftershave someone had on; to how a person held their cigarette.  It’s too damn much!  OMG, I was so done!  Where was the interaction with other characters?  Where was the dialogue?  Ummph, and when dialogue finally came, which I was forever grateful to break up the monotony, more detail ensued and made me have to put a bookmark up, go back to where the character initially began speaking because I totally forget what the hell I was supposed to gleam from the conversation.  People, that’s clearly too much detail!

Oh Attica, darling, I love you madly for your blessed writing skills, but sista, you did this book a terrible injustice.  I didn’t love it at all.  The detail you put in this novel made me disconnect from the people and storyline, and we both know that’s not what you’re trying to accomplish nor establish with your readers.  For as much money as I paid, I did not expect this.  I really didn’t and I’m a bit miffed about that.  I don’t ever have a problem paying for books by authors I truly respect, but you’ve got to give me something a little better than this.  Wow, I was not impressed, not at all.    

As much as it pains me to even say this, Mello & June give this novel three stars. The story fell flat because it was extremely difficult to follow with the amount of detail splayed out among the pages. I’m not sure what happened here, but Pleasantville did not please me and didn't live up to the hype surrounding it.

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

When you Open a #Book. . .
You Open Your World!