You might want to skip that (2 or less stars)

Silent Pretty Things, by O. J. Lovaz

1.5 stars. Feels very constructed and totally implausible. DNFed around 20 %.

1.5 stars

I think I might have mentioned this before, but modern day Mystery novels seem to follow a certain structure:

  • A homicide in a hitherto peaceful place
  • The police in over their head
  • An investigator who is brilliant at solving crimes, but who sucks at live in general

Well, this book goes with a variation in the last part, it substitutes the brilliant investigator for two people who are no investigators, but found themselves drawn to a mystery and are pretty soon in the midst of it. And of course flirting with each other all along the way, with the guy being a tad older than the woman, and also a history nerd.

Now where have I seen this combination of heroes before?

It’s pretty much clear from the start that there is mutual attraction between those two – so much as to make you think they could be hormone ridden teenagers. I’m sure there are readers who will love this romantic side dish – for me, it was a touch to much, bordering on overdoing it (but not quite).

To demonstrate my meaning, this is what Anna thinks when she sees Michael for the second time in her life:

He was clean-shaven with his hair brushed back, but a few strands were already beginning to defy orders, falling over his temples. She imagined him under a full moon with the wind blowing his hair and felt tempted to get her hands in there and mess it up.

About 5 % into the book

Gee, Anna, I don’t know. What would you do to this poor man under a new moon? Straighten his hair up?

What’s really getting me plot wise of the thin lines the plot is constructed upon. Apparently, Anna first visits Michael in the library because she wants to unearth a family secret. That might be plausible – but the event that triggered her is not grave enough to justify going looking on old baseball match pictures in the hope to find something. She does find something, but that must be contributed to sheer luck. Okay, spoiler ahead:

My aunt sends my dad a message that they are both to be blamed and will be condemned for it. End of message. I am then so highly disturbed by this message that I don’t talk to anyone about it – certainly not my beloved brother whom I trust completely – and instead I go to the local archive to look at an 40 years old picture of a baseball match my dad used to brag about. Where I see him and my aunt kissing decades before my birth.

Anna is totally connecting everything.

Sure, that’s just the start and we know there will be more coming. She also had a talk with her mother she describes as godawful – but when the content of that talk is laid bare, I again could not see what the fuss is about. One must be highly paranoid to draw the conclusions Anna drew – doesn’t matter she is proved right later on, because that just means her character is acting on the faintest hints because the author needs a reason for her to do what she does.

So far the chain of events and the reactions are highly implausible. As someone watching for plot structures – unless the narrative is so compelling I find myself drawn in beyond the point of being on the watchout for this kind of thing – I’m mildly disgusted by such flaws. Too constructed to be plausible, and we’re talking Mystery here, not Fantasy. I think I must have a very different opinion about what constitutes dreadful secrets than Anna.

And her brother, when she finally confides in him, is no better, going of at tangents. It’s all so darn constructed! Michaels perspective could have saved this – he seemed more reasonable – but so far, he hasn’t gotten much time with the audience.

In the end, I gave up. This book is certainly not for me.

Anna and Michael are sweet with each other, so if what you’re looking for is a romance with a little bit of plot woven in-between, this book might be just fine for you.

But if you’ve got lured in by the description and awaited a mind boggling Mystery – like I did – you’re probably in for a bad surprise.

I’ll admit there might have been more to this book. I DNFed around 20 % out of sheer boredom and struggling with the constructedness of it all – but that’s my limit. If a book hasn’t hooked me in any way by then, I’ll stop wasting my time. There is so much else to read, after all.

1.5 stars for the sweetness between Anne and Michael.

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Reader’s Copy and are leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

2 replies on “Silent Pretty Things, by O. J. Lovaz”

Thank you!

I just wish I could have liked this book more. It’s not the author’s fault, it’s mine – I wasn’t able to switch off my thoughts enough. I’ve got no problem with suspension of disbelief when going into any kind of fantasy, but crime and mystery are a different kind of beast for me. I’m expecting something more believable in this genre.

Liked by 1 person

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