Friday, February 20, 2015

CBR7 #2: Ramona's Home by Lawrence Bassett

The first thing I have to admit up front is that this book was written by my all-time favorite high school English teacher, so I am a little bit biased. The man was (and still is, I assume) wonderful, smart, hilarious, and also completely insane. I totally adored him.

Ramona's Home is the story of Ramona Schuyler, a woman in her fifties who has returned to her small hometown to serve as the chief of police. Ramona had left town as soon as she could, and spent most of her life in the miliary an MP or as a state trooper. She hasn't been back in town all that long when the father of her childhood best friend kills himself. As she investigates, Ramona discovers that the town has been keeping some awful secrets, and she tries to decide if it's worth shining a light on them. She also tries to figure out where her place in this is, and whether she even has one.

There were a lot of things I really liked about the book, most importantly Ramona herself. As a character, she's tough, self-mocking, cynical, and very smart. I liked her very much, and was interested in her actions and motivations.  I was also interested in the mystery itself, trying to follow along and recognize the clues at the same time Ramona did.

On the other hand, there were a few things that bothered me. First off, it felt like the book rushed to an ending. A promising mystery was tied up fairly quickly, and with hardly any raised stakes for Ramona. There was a sudden reveal of a new character, some fisticuffs, a little gunplay, and everything was tied up neatly. I didn't feel like I necessarily got the pay-off for my invested time and emotions. I also felt like some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little better. I wanted to know them and care about them, but for the most part, they were just background players who stepped in, said their lines, and then stepped out again.

Overall, I liked this, and would recommend it. However, I do think it wouldn't have suffered from the addition of another 100 pages to fill in the holes and ratchet up the tension.

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