Monday, May 3, 2010

The Killing of Mindi Quintana - Jeffrey A. Cohen

FIRST LINE: "Freddy Builder, Chanet Department Store's manager of china and glass, arrived in the morning to find Jill, one of his salesgirls, beaming at him in his display area.

Frederick Builder is a man with a gift for designing displays. It comes naturally and without effort. But he doesn't appreciate that gift; he wants to be a writer. Frederick doesn't possess the same talent for writing. While he's waiting for his writing career to take off, Frederick "Freddy" is working as the manager of the china department at Chanet Department Store. He's been regularly recognized as "Manager of the Month" and his greatest fear is that he will be named "Manager of the Year." The Manager of the Year becomes Philadelphia's great celebrity. His face is put on billboards and bus ads, on the company's bags, boxes and aftershave. It is meant to be the ultimate reward, but Freddy fears that fate more than anything. He's embarrassed by his position as a department store manager and eagerly awaits the day that he can call himself an author and walk out of this job he so despises.

Mindi Quintana works for a literary magazine and is the daughter of an ex-con. Her father did some "creative accounting" for the mob and ended up in jail. For a short time in college, Mindi dated Freddy then meets up with him again during a trip to Chanet to find a vase for her parents' anniversary. Mindi would like to be friends with Freddy and she tries to be nice to him, but Freddy wants more. Freddy shares his writing with Mindi in the hopes of finding someone to publish it, but Mindi is honest with Freddy and tells him his writing needs a lot of work.

When Freddy is named "Manager of the Year" at Chanet and Mindi rebuffs his advances, he cracks and kills Mindi. He becomes an overnight celebrity as the China Manager case.

THE KILLING OF MINDI QUINTANA is Jeffrey Cohen's debut novel. It looks satirically at society's obsession with celebrity and that obsession's impact on the legal system. It is also a look at how the legal system designed to protect the innocent often rapes the victims.

The novel moves on the slow side. The actual killing of Mindi Quintana doesn't occur until the middle of the book. The beginning of the book works to build up the reader's dislike for Freddy. I did find myself wondering why Mindi wouldn't just stop agreeing to do things with Freddy, but that's bringing my own personality into the mix. While I felt ultimately there were some contradictions in her character, humans can often be contradictory.

What I found most effective for me as the reader, though, was the reminder of how imperfect our legal system is. This causes conflict for me because I remind myself of the need to protect the innocent. But in some cases, the innocent aren't protected and the guilty are. Do we settle for imperfect and continue to justify it or do we need to be reminded that we should still be working to improve this imperfect system?

Definitely makes you think.

My review of THE KILLING OF MINDI QUINTANA is the first stop on Jeffrey Cohen's blog tour through TLC Book Tours. You can find information about Jeffrey Cohen and  links to the other stops on this tour at their site.

THE KILLING OF MINDI QUINTANA is available now in hardcover from Welcome Rain Publisher (ISBN: 978-1566499583).

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3 comments:

LisaMM May 3, 2010 at 9:37 AM  

Thanks, Jen, for being on the tour! Mindi sounds really interesting.. now I want to know what happens..

Literary Feline May 6, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

I wondered the same thing about Mindi, Jen. I agree about this book making you think.

A recent crime story that's been in the media especially reminded me of this book. Not that the killer is anything like Freddy, but at least in terms of the way the guy seems to want the attention.

Steve Capell May 27, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

I am really intrigued with this post and I recentely watched a video that covered this book and I have added this book to my list of books that I need to read. For me the fact that this is based on a true-life story makes this book even that more intriguing. I hear time after time people that are released from the justice system and they go back to commit another crime. I spend five years doing prison ministries and I worked with men that were going to be released back into society. Unfortunately the prison system is understaffed to truly change the person from being a criminal, they are staffed to provide care and safety, but their resources are stretched thin to really rehabilitate the criminal. Those that I did counsel did move back into society and didn’t return to a criminal behavior. I would guess this an emotional read and one that I would like to add to my library. His next book A Plea for Leniency also has an intriguing title.

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