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
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
Kindle and $9.99