30 August 2011

Frustrated romance; frustrating mystery

One of the familiar authors I found on my last trip to the library was Margaret Coel. I didn't realize how familiar I was with Coel's books until I looked back at what I'd written about her books here. The earliest entry was in 2002 on the old pre-blogging blog ReadingOnTheWeb. I have averaged just over a book a year by Ms Coel. Some of them I've enjoyed a lot; others have been disappointing. Her story telling is not always top notch. She seems to slip into the romance genre when she spends much time writing about the relationship between a Jesuit missionary/recovering alcoholic on a Wyoming Indian Reservation and a middle-aged/native/divorcee/lawyer working in a nearby town.

In this new book, The Silent Spirit, Coel wanders dangerously close (in my mind) to romance while writing a mystery novel. Maybe she's writing more for a female audience or maybe she sees this as a balance to the superhero antics of Sue Grafton's and Sara Paretsky's characters.

The story is built around a young native man and his attempts not only to make something of himself, but to do something important for his grandfather. That important something is directly connected to his great-grandfather's involvement in the 1923 movie The Covered Wagon.

The two books I read just before this one (In the Woods and Junkyard Dogs) dragged me in and pushed me to keep on reading to the end. However, I read The Silent Spirit in spurts and often went back to it reluctantly. It seemed to me that some episodes were well-told and flowed right along. Then, reading the next episode was like slogging through a mucky swamp -- slow and difficult.

It turned out that the ending was one of the good parts. The widely-flung bits of plot, and a few irrelevancies, came together in Coel's romantic (in a philosophical snese) ending. The last 75 pages made me glad I'd mucked through some of the earlier bits.

Have you read The Silent Spirit? Write, and tell this little bit of the world what you thought of it.

Other Margaret Coel books I've written about:

1 comment:

Ken Wedding said...

Sorry about the typos. I promise to be a better proofreader in the future.