Monday, January 4, 2010

"The Black Minute"

Started to read the Black Minute by Christopher Valen last night. This police procedural is the second in a series with John Santana, a homicide detective in St. Paul, Minnesota formerly from Colombia. Valen's first novel, White Tombs, got great reviews and won awards. "The Black Minute" is a nice title, I thought, and the subject matter, dealing with the Hmong and Asian communities in St. Paul, seemed evocative and interesting.

I wanted to like it but I could barely get through the first few chapters. The writing was awkward, the dialogue stilted, the characters seemed flat and unappealing, and the author's 3rd person narrative had him making some strange assertions and interpretations. I found it hard going. Maybe White Tombs is better ; I might check it out. Here are some examples of some of the prose I found hard to read:

"Santana had hoped he avoid the quick denial by letting her know where he was coming from but she was still putting up a front."

"Jenna Jones's bottom lip quivered and her brown eyes glistened. But she held herself together by crossing her arms tightly across her chest, refusing to let the death of her friend light an emotional fire."

Maybe the plot makes up for it but I am not going to find out!

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