Thursday, May 3, 2012

Night Sins by Tami Hoag ****

Night Sins opens with Hannah Garrison, head ER doctor, staying late to (unsuccessfully) treat the victims of an car accident and her husband Paul Kirkwood ignoring his phone while with his mistress. If you are a Tami Hoag reader, you know what to expect: their Cub Scout son, Josh, was abducted. Welcome to a world of guilt and recrimination.

Our protagonists are Megan O'Malley, the first female agent of the Minnesota equivalent of the FBI - BCA - Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the local Police Chief Mitch Holt. As might be expected, they come with their own personal demons (dysfunctional families, murdered families, and major relationship issues), but the real story is their investigation of the abduction, with a side show of annoying reporters exploiting the story for their personal needs.

The story progresses hour-by-hour as they play cat and mouse with the kidnapper, uncovering one wrong suspect after another, until it is impossible to put the book down for the last 100 pages.

This excellent mystery is marred in three ways...

First, too many of the characters are severely deranged. As a reader, I felt that too many times one subplot after another was revealed to by motivated by insanity. This takes away some of the fun of mystery reading if all the solutions begin with "He was crazy."

Second, Ms Tami Hoag is enamored with the "No" means "Yes" schools of relationships. In a novel trying to set Feminism back 50 years, our protagonist spends way too much of her time fighting off sweet Mitch, when what she really, deep inside, unknown to herself, wants is to have him take her to bed. Of course, true to this 1950s cliche, afterwards she is unhappy with the result, but still continues the her cycles of "No" means "Yes."

Finally, as a 20th century author (vs someone like Dickens), Tami Hoag feels no compulsion to tie up all the subplots at the end. While thousands of students have been taught to revere this approach at the alter of "The Tiger and The Lady," I am forced to wonder if the author just ran out of time and interest --- as a reader I feel short changed.

This is a great book for reading on the airplane, especially a long one like I just took between California and South Africa.

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