Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Letters

Yes I know publishers use the cover of a book as their primary method of targeting a specific readership. But I've never fielded so many, "Oh my god. What the hell are you reading, Michael?" and "Michael. You are reading a romance - what!!" as I did reading this. If I'd bumped into Violet (main character) while I had my head in this, she would have muttered something scathing about chick flicks or bloody Mills and Boon. I'm sure she would have been horrified to be a character in either and would probably have much preferred to be horribly murdered on page 33 of a Minette Walters detective novel. These headless women photos are just too redolent of pulp romance or even mail order catalogue to carry around in public. I think I could have lived with the compromise of a quirky though still misleading chick lit cover.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as Fiona Robyn's other book The Blue Handbag. That book was well structured, with a mystery that developed along with the characters. The Letters doesn't seem to have much structure at all. It reads more like a prolonged character study, interspersed with some old letters that seem to have no connection to the narrative. They do have a connection but it is so obliquely hidden and largely ignored by Violet that it is hard to even care what it is. That's not to say the book isn't worth reading. Violet is an abrasive, impulsive, opinionated, sometimes volatile, though interesting character, who has a softer side hidden below all the brash bossiness, and she does have some stories to tell. Her relationship with her children, mainly her son add a dash of amusement, as does the hopeless ensemble of the Village Committee, which kept giving me flashes of The Vicar of Dibley minus vicar and bottomless puddles.


  1. Hi Michael
    Thank you very much for registering interest in a free copy of my new thriller, Cut Short, on goodreads.com. I’m not sure how it works, but assume I’ll have to pick a name at random at the end of the month.
    Cut Short came out last week and, so far, seems to be doing very well, selling out at my first two book signings.
    Waterstones in Islington Green, London N1, are hosting a book launch tomorrow, 24th June, from 6.30-8pm. You are welcome to come along, if you can. I’m sorry about the short notice, I only just checked this site.
    Please email me on leighrussell@live.co.uk if you’d like to contact me. I’d love to hear from you, especially if you have any comments about Cut Short in due course. I wonder what you think of the cover of my book? Please let me know!
    Thank you again for your interest in this brand new series of British crime thrillers.
    With best wishes
    Leigh Russell

  2. Cover looks fine. Good luck with Cut Short.