TITLE: Jackson Corners
AUTHOR: Jennifer L. Hart
PRICE: $14.95 printed, $5.59 download
GENRE: Contemporary fiction
PUBLISHER: Jennifer L. Hart via Lulu.com
POINT OF SALE: Lulu.com
Isabella Roberts is looking for a change. After a messy divorce to an anal-retentive husband, she bundles her two-year-old daughter out of the city and purchases a house in sleepy Jackson Corners. There she meets handsome, brooding Noah Davis, and learns that while her new home may come with neighbourly assistance and friendly faces, it also a lugs around a swathe of emotional baggage.
There’s one rule of thumb for writing a decent mystery: Plot Is Everything. Jennifer L Hart knows her plot and ought to be commended for her firm handling of it. Jackson Corners is fed to the reader with the utmost care and not a piece of information comes too soon. Every character is suspect; every action has an ulterior motive. The sinister presence lurking in Jackson Corners waits until the final moment to reveal itself and while the moment isn’t particularly shocking—everyone’s a suspect here, remember—it does deserve a shout of approval for keeping the guesses going so long.
Unfortunately, as all too often happens with mysteries, character and authenticity falter at the hands of the storyline. In particular, the sexual tension between some of the more prominent characters has a tendency to collapse into the realm of the undeniably cheesy. The prose itself is as contemporary as the world the characters inhabit: email and telephones are on equal footing and it’s completely normal for most of the characters to be (or see) a therapist. Word usage and proofing errors are the only real stumbling block in what is otherwise quite lively and well-planned prose. The extradiagetic narrative helps immensely and multiple points of view stop the story from lingering too long in any one place.
Ultimately though, it’s the plot that drives this novel forward. A real solid effort on that count.
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