Thursday, January 3, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: Don't bother trying to get lost in 'The Mists of Adriana'

I’m a huge fan of noir fiction.

I like the feeling of embracing the old – while remaining firmly entrenched in the present.

‘The Mists of Adriana,’ by Roger M. Woodbury, was supposed to be a rollicking romp through all the things I love about noir fiction.

Unfortunately, it failed on just about every level.

The book does start out with an interesting conceit – the main protagonist is never identified. I found that extremely fun – for about three chapters. Then it just got repetitive and boring.

Woodbury has an interesting story here in a lot of ways. The problem is, it’s been done before.

As I was reading the (really long) book, I realized I had seen this story – or something very close to it – at some other time. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out when – and where.

Then, it hit me, Woodbury is trying to write a ‘Rebecca.’ For those not familiar, ‘Rebecca’ is a 1940 Hitchcock movie that is basically one big bait and switch. Suffice it to say, the movie is much better done than ‘The Mists of Adriana.’

Still, Woodbury’s central story is a tale worth telling. The problem is that it’s mired in maudlin prose.

Woodbury’s book is way too long – I mean way too long. At a certain point, the central narrative starts to drag and meander. I found myself hurriedly flipping forward in my Kindle – several times – skipping as many as ten pages at once, only to find myself in the exact same place in the book.

It was kind of like a kids ‘Dick and Jane’ novel: He puts his hand on the door handle. He twists the handle. He opens the door. He looks on the other side of the door. He’s surprised to see who is on the other side of the door. The person on the other side of the door seems surprised to see him.

Sometimes less is more.

Also, Woodbury would have benefitted from breaking up his paragraphs. Sometimes one paragraph encompasses five electronic pages – which tends to help readers zone out of what they’re reading.

One of the things that bothered me most about the novel is that I felt I was being talked down to as a reader. There was a pretentious tone to the work. I don’t think everything has to be fluffy and light – but it should be accessible to a wide audience.

There are actual instances of characters talking in all caps. This is just to remind the reader what the author thinks is important, in case they’re REALLY STUPID.

The other thing that bothered me a great deal was the dialogue. It wasn’t even remotely realistic. It felt stilted and forced. I mean, who says “four and one half”? Grammar is important, but realistic dialogue is more important.

Finally, since it is an indie, typos are always a problem. Early in the book, the typos are few and far between. They do tend to pick up as the book moves along, though. Some of them are distracting enough to yank you out of the narrative.

Basically, ‘The Mists of Adriana’ could have been a great story. Instead, it really just meanders into boredom and pomposity.

‘The Mists of Adriana’ is currently available for $2.99 on Kindle and $9.99 in paperback.


Blogger Stephen Bitsoli said...

Typos are a problem -- and an annoyance -- in ALL books these days, copy editing being a lost, or at least an expensive, art. How closely does it follow Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca"? Just the conceit of the narrator not being named, or in the actual plot details (new wife, dead wife, housekeeper with an agenda)? And where does the helicopter on the cover fit in?

January 4, 2013 at 12:08 PM 

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