Saturday, September 13, 2008

Red Light - T. Jefferson Parker

Merci Rayborn returns in Red Light by T. Jefferson Parker. It's two years after Tim Hess died. She's dating Mike McNally - a fellow officer, has an 18-month-old son and lives with her father since her mother passed away. In this installment of the Rayborn series, a prostitute is murdered. But the catch is this prostitute has a tie to Merci's boyfriend, Mike McNally, and soon the evidence starts piling up against Mike as the murderer. Meanwhile, Merci has also been given a cold case to look into. The cold case is also a prostitute murder, this one from 1969, that starts to look like it too has ties back to the sheriff's department.

I listened to this book on audio, read by Anna Fields. She does a good job of projecting the dark tone of Parker's novel. She doesn't have a wide range of voices, though. I thought most all the female characters sounded one way and all the male characters another way, but not much differentiation within the genders. It was still a decent recording, though.

I predicted the outcome in this book pretty early. I'm not sure if it's because I'm reading too much crime fiction these days and have it all figured out or if this particular book was just a bit on the predictable side. If you read it and predicted it early, let me know. I don't want to tell folks it's a predictable plot and just have it be that I just guessed well on this one! But regardless I did figure it out early. And yet, there's something about Parker's writing that just keeps me riveted. He's great with detail. I love how all the detail is essential in the plot. There isn't a bunch of superfluous "stuff." He doesn't try to be showy or extravagant. Rather, Parker is economical and makes full use of everything he puts in the book.

I have found so far with the four books I've read of his, Red Light included, I wouldn't recommend them if you're depressed! All four have had a very dark tone, and Parker doesn't have much in the way of comic relief.

I'm intrigued by Merci Rayborn. I can't say she's one of my favorite female characters, but I'm constantly trying to figure her out. She's a tough cookie, without a doubt. And she is a character with depth. But, in this book, more so than in The Blue Hour, I found some of her behavior out of character. It just didn't seem to fit, and I didn't buy into it.

The other thing that bothered me a bit about this novel was the handful of details I was picking up as the law-enforcement-ignorant-reader that Merci was NOT picking up as a veteran sheriff's detective. She would eventually get there, but I had a hard time believing it would take her as long as it did. Now maybe, being on the outside looking in changes things, but as an example, it took her until the end of the book to think of the possibility that the outside light might NOT have been turned on. They assumed that the light would have been on because the bulb was not burned out - the bulb's status was determined at the beginning of the novel. Wouldn't a veteran investigator consider all the possibilities of that bulb from the get-go? I mean, personally, I would think one of the first scenarios they would consider is that the murderer unscrewed the bulb so the victim couldn't see him/her through the peep hole. But, I could be way off base.

Overall, I enjoyed Red Light and it was a good audiobook to listen to in the car. I'm sure I will read the third Merci Rayborn installment, Black Water, as well.


Liz September 18, 2008 at 5:04 PM  

I tried a T. Jefferson Parker book during the summer. I'd read a glowing review so I thought I'd give it a try. I did not care for it at all! I would agree with your assessment that it was dark.

Do give this action-packed book a look. It's Tsunami and I couldn't put it down. It's terrifice, with lots of interest subplots, good villains, suspense and a love story, too. The main characters are well-developed (always a plus, in my book) and there's quite the payoff when we finally get to the tsunami. This one could be a movie!

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