Monday, December 2, 2013

Lay Death at Her Door by Elizabeth Buhmann

Kate Cranbrook is running from her past.  Twenty years ago, she was viciously raped and her friend, a college professor, was murdered.  Kate’s eyewitness testimony sent the perpetrator to prison, but Kate stays close to home and close to her father.  Her career as a landscape designer is flourishing but a call from a court advocate changes her life.  The man she sent to prison for the rape and murder is going to be released from prison because his DNA does not match the DNA from the crime.  You would think that Kate would be surprised.

She isn’t.  In the second paragraph of the book, she confesses that she lied about his being responsible for the crime.  The rest of Lay Death at Her Door by Elizabeth Buhmann is an effort to understand Kate and her reasons for behaving the way she does.  Along the way, the reader is treated to a twisty, engrossing mystery.

There are many secrets in this book that are revealed little by little, and hesitate to spill the beans on any of them.  I can say that Kate is a quite unlikeable narrator.  It is clear that he view is tarnished and self-serving and there are many aspects of her character that are disturbing.  She has a nearly pathological relationship with her father, who rarely lets her out of his sight.  She is willing to commit adultery, and she has no issues with telling convenient lies.  Throughout the book, I had a sense that she only told convenient truths, and I was right.

I enjoyed the sense of place and Buhmann does a great job at taking the reader into the mind of someone so unlikable.  I wish that I understood the other characters as well as I understood Kate, though.  Since the novel was limited by first-person point of view, I understood why this could not be, but some of the secondary characters were fascinating.

My chief complaint about the novel is that it felt like it moved in fits and starts.  I would get interested and fly through pages, and then get stuck and have to force myself to move along.  I think this is because of the lack of depth in Kate’s thought processes.  Yes, she has her reasons for doing things, but the exposition of these feelings was quite repetitive.  In addition, there was a sense of moving from one plot point to another with a “telling” structure, rather than a “showing” one.

For a first novel, I think Lay Death at Her Door is a terrific effort.  Buhmann clearly knows how to write strong characters and define a setting.  Just a bit of tweaking on the pacing and style of her writing, and I think the next novel she writes would be a great read.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

1 comment:

  1. Regina, thank you so much for taking time to read my book and write such a thoughtful review. I appreciate it!


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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