We seem to have settled into reviewing four books a week, two from each of us. While I always try and get one more in there, I typically run out of time. Not that reading three books a week is all that difficult. But reading a sizeable chunk of three or four other books as well—and then rejecting them—gums up the works.
What gets a book rejected? There are many reasons. But crime fiction can often slide into a type of morass at the midpoint, where nothing seems to be happening, or ever will. Yes, the book has another 150 pages to redeem itself, but it will have to do so without me.
Sometimes it is inaccuracy. I’m not a big stickler for details. I mean, I live in New York City, but I don’t know if 27th Street goes east to west. But when a book set in the late ‘50s has a male character attending a women’s college that wasn’t coed until 1971, I find I get thrown out of the narrative and trust the author a bit less.
There’s the casual homophobia. I was loving a cozy, until the lead character described a guy as effeminate, as though that’s a bad thing. Whaaaat?
Then there’s the casual racism. Like another cozy, where a Black woman’s hair style is described as unprofessional—with the tacit understanding that all the readers agree. Or the book where the author keeps describing Irish Travellers as gypsies.
I could go on and on, but for now let’s stop here. And hope that the next three books I download go sailing through.—Brian Kenney