It’s hard to review Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff. On Amazon and various other online review sites, I’ve read a lot of praises for both the author and the book. Yet upon completion, I’m left wondering if something is horribly wrong with me because I did not find the book that compelling. Here is a very brief description of the book:
“Desire, need, and ambition fuel Corrine Tedros, a Lady Macbeth wannabe who arranges the murder of her father-in-law, a soft-drink mogul. It’s witnessed by a man in the late stages of Alzheimer’s; he provides scattershot details but cannot accurately communicate what he saw. Meanwhile, Ben Decovic, formerly a homicide detective in Ryland, Ohio, is now a patrolman for the Magnolia Beach Police Department in South Carolina, where he is attempting to recover from a personal tragedy.”
I decided to read this book because it made it to the top of the list of free Kindle books. Since it was free and I thought the product description was pretty decent, why not give it a try?
First off, I really need to get something off my chest. I’m no English professor or anything but I know that having a sentence that runs for a whole page and a freaking half is beyond ridiculous, no matter how witty or “stylish” an author wants to be. I don’t care if it’s their “signature” or “trademark”. It makes for horrible reading. In the quote below is just one of the many examples of what the author considers one, yes one, sentence. I’m not joking at all. I believe this is the very beginning of chapter 27.
“It was like some cruel, ludicrous joke, some last last laugh, Corrine Tedros having left the meat counter with two heavy sirloins and moved on to the produce department-where she ran into a simulated cloudburst on the store’s sound system that warned her and any nearby shoppers that the fresh fruits and vegetables were about to be sprayed, the nozzles opening in a fine steady mist-a facsimile of the rain that April and the sky outside the store withheld, and Corrine Tedros had yet to stop and select a wine to go with the steaks and had yet to turn the corner at the end of the aisle for the gourmet coffee where she would run into the punchline still some five minutes away, Corrine at that point still caught up in the moment,the power that came from the knowledge she could put anything in her cart-and as much of anything in the cart that she wanted and no one could stop her because she had the means to pay for it; the flashpoint between desire and the object of that desire the blink of a nerve ending, and it was because of those moments and for those moments that corrine Tedros always made it a point to shop for groceries when she was hungry.”
After reading that, you can understand why I’m afraid every time of seeing a comma because I’m just praying that it’s not another one of those long paragraph-sentences. Anyways, beside those long sentences (which comes every so often but luckily not close enough together to make me stop reading altogether), the writing was fairly decent. However, I felt deceived. The book summary clearly makes you think that the witness to the murder, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, would play an important role in the book. I’m telling you right now that he does not! The author displays Jack Carson as a man whose memories and skill to blend words efficiently together to portray his thoughts either comes and goes. He’s far from a nutcase but rather a man trapped and can’t even figure out why he’s trapped in the first place. I thought the plot summary was interesting because I never read a mystery book that resembles something to Late Rain but was left sorely disappointed for having high hopes. If I were to take Jack Carson out of the equation of being the sole murder “witness”, then yes, the author did a splendid job in fleshing him out as a troubled individual. You can actually feel his pains at times.
As a detective novel, Late Rain is pretty much your standard stuff. I’m starting to wonder if all detectives in mystery books have a deceased wife and always hung over with grief. That definitely seems to be the trend with these type of books. Detective Ben Decovic is your protagonist here and well, he’s very average. I really don’t know how else to describe it. In fact, many of the characters in Late Rain are fairly boring save for a few. Even Paige, the eleven year old, at times seem more interesting than Ben. The person with the most interesting persona is the assassin named Croy Wendall. Although the author does not state specifically what’s wrong with him, you as the reader get the idea that a few bolts is loose inside his head. Corrine Tedros was great to read into as well. You definitely felt her grief as the author does an outstanding job telling us of her childhood and what went on there. Characters such as Sonny Gramm, Raychard Balen, and Wayne LaVell were pretty forgettable as soon as the book completed. Balen does have some redeeming qualities in that he’s a smooth and witty conservationist and generally one you don’t really want to mess with.
In the end, I read Late Rain for what it is: a mystery novel. At certain times throughout the book, I thought the author was brilliant in his writing. There’s a late passage towards the end of the book concerning Jack Carson that was superb if only it was not one of those long paragraph-sentences! If you want to read a straight up classic, who-done-it mystery book, don’t bother with Late Rain. There’s not much of a mystery here.