Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disturbance by Jan Burke: A review

Stories about sociopathic and apparently invincible serial killers who love to torture their victims are not my cup of tea. Thus, I am still trying to remember how this book came to be on my to-be-read shelf. I believe it was given to me by someone who knows I read a lot of mysteries with tough women as the protagonists and probably thought I would enjoy it. Wrong. I just found it irritating, frankly.

Perhaps it would have made a difference if I had ever read any of the other Irene Kelly books. This was the eleventh in the series, apparently a successful series with a lot of fans. If I had read any of the other books, it's possible I would have had a greater appreciation of the characters. There was little character development or explication in this book. I guess the assumption was that the reader would have already read those earlier books. 

So, the reader meets Irene Kelly here as an investigative reporter for a failing newspaper, the Las Piernas News Express. She is married to Frank, a homicide detective with the local police department. She had had a horrific encounter (in the last book, I guess) with the aforementioned sociopath, Nick Parrish, who had kidnapped and tortured her. The sociopath was ultimately captured and Irene was rescued, but Parrish was seriously injured and, as a result, paralyzed.

However, after being sentenced to life without parole, Parrish received excellent medical treatment and, as a result, his paralysis was reversed. He has sworn vengeance on Irene Kelly.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, Parrish has a devoted online fan club, the Moths. (Why "Moths"? Who knows? Maybe because they circle around Parrish's bright flame.) It turns out that these Moths are sons of Parrish. Literally. Apparently he had planted his seed all over the place and now the crop has matured and is ready for harvest. 

Strange things start happening around Irene. Not-so-funny pranks are being played, and, for a woman still suffering from PTSD, they may be enough to send her over the edge.

Then her newspaper closes and her job is gone.

Then the dead bodies of women start turning up. Bodies with pictures of moths drawn on them.

Then Nick Parrish escapes from prison.

Then Irene Kelly is kidnapped once again.

Yep, even though I hadn't read the other books, I definitely felt like I had been down this road before and I didn't really want to travel it again.

I very, very rarely, as in almost never, give up on any book. If I make the commitment to read it, then I stick with it to the bitter end. My husband laughs at me for this. If a book doesn't grab him in the first twenty pages, he tosses it. Perhaps I should have adopted his philosophy with this book, but I soldiered on. However, I won't pretend that I read every word. Indeed, I quickly scanned most of it, but enough to get the gist of the thing. Enough to know that I really didn't like it.

Jan Burke is a successful, award-winning writer. This book seemed tightly plotted and written to elicit the maximum in suspense. To paraphrase a famous quote, for those who like this sort of thing, no doubt this is the sort of thing they would like. Not me.

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