Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Review: Last Exit in New Jersey
Title: Last Exit in New Jersey
Author: C. E. Grundler
Genre: action / thriller
Publisher: Amazon / Kindle
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
The promotional copy for Last Exit in New Jersey starts Nice young ladies from the Garden State really shouldn't be dumping bodies at sea. Then again, 20 year-old Hazel Moran is anything but your typical Jersey girl. Those events start in Chapter 1, and that’s a fairly good indication of what you’re getting in C. E. Grundler’s first novel. The work, available only electronically, is a modern hard-boiled / noir novel with a serious fixation on boating.
The characters spend ten days in late June and early July running up and down the Jersey coast in various boats, trucks and fast cars. For reasons unknown, a group of people is desperately trying to find Hazel’s cousin and best friend Micah, and they are perfectly willing to carve the information out of Hazel. The first problem is that Hazel has no idea where Micah is, and the second problem is that Hazel can drive or sail just about anything smaller than an aircraft carrier, which makes finding her difficult. But Hazel’s no Woman of Steel – she’s remorseful, rebellious and moody, basically pitch-perfect for her age.
Last Exit is well-written and fast-paced, and has high production values. It’s definitely worth the read. Having said that, Grundler does something that I personally dislike, even though it’s a common plot device. I call it “false suspense.” In the basic form, false suspense works like this: Character X, a trusted confidant of Character Y, tells X to trust Character Z, whom Y has never met. However, neither X or Z bothers to sit down and explain why Z should be trustworthy. So, Y doesn’t trust Z, and acts accordingly. This happens several times in the book, usually in conjunction with an attempt to kidnap Hazel to keep her safe.
People, just talk to each other! (Sorry, that was me yelling at the characters.) Seriously, even if a character explains why they can be trusted, the requisite tension and distrust can still happen. After all, just because a character says something doesn’t make it true.
Other than that somewhat personal peeve, I found Last Exit in New Jersey to be a fast, well-written and entertaining story. I hope to see more from Ms. Grundler.