Monday, August 29, 2011

CR3 #68: The Throat

The Throat is the third novel in Straub's "Blue Rose" trilogy, and I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about it.

First of all, unlike the other two books, The Throat is not a stand-alone work. Without having read both Koko and Mystery, you will be totally lost. The main character in The Throat is Tim Underhill, the free-spirited writer from Koko. He explains that the previous two books were works of fiction that he wrote based on true experiences. Therefore, you need to know the events related in the previous two novels, but they are now somewhat unreliable, since Underhill explains that he definitely changed some things. This work begins when Tim receives a call from a long-lost army buddy, whose wife has been attacked. John Ransom wants Tim to come back to their hometown of Millhaven to look into the case, since it appears to be connected with a series of murders from fifty years before. The Blue Rose murders (mentioned briefly in the other two books) are thought to be long solved, but now it seems that the killer has returned. Tim--with the help of eccentric genius Tom Pasmore (hero of Mystery)--has to delve through current events as well as those from the time of the original murders and from Ransom's service in Vietnam to figure out the truth.

This is a pretty good book, but I didn't feel quite as connected to it as I did to Koko. That one felt a little more visceral, and the variety of characters added a lot to the story. In this one, Underhill is mostly on his own, and while he is interesting, he could use a little help. Straub has once again done a good job with the secondary and peripheral characters--Ransom's semi-senile father-in-law, an elderly jazz musician, and a visiting nurse, for example--all of whom are interesting and vibrant. One of the only problems I had with The Throat is the same as the one I had with Koko--I figured out the twist far before the characters in the story did, and I found it frustrating. I couldn't figure out why they were so unable to see what was obvious to me.

Aside from that one issue, this is a pretty good book, and I recommend the series to anyone who likes mysteries that are a little outside the norm.

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