I hope everyone had a great summer. I wasn’t blogging through most of it as I stayed pretty busy and I’m still trying to wrap some of those summer projects up – Three books left to go before I’m finished with the Great American Read!
Even though I’m still working on the Great American Read, I’ve been sneaking other books on the side all summer, and I want to talk about one that I got while I was on vacation in Michigan: Made a Killing in Copper by Richard Baldwin.
I feel like I’m engaging in betrayal here, because I liked Baldwin’s previous book that I read, “Murder in Tip-Up Town.” I like being able to read books by Michigan authors when I travel to Michigan, but this time I have to say a few things about this book.
In reading this book, the flow of reading was continually disrupted by things that writers are not supposed to do in their writing. The first place I caught my flow of reading being interrupted was with the info dump I was given about one of the side characters. Lou Searing, the investigator in the novel, gets a request from one of his fans to assist on his case. He agrees to contact her about her helping him, and in chapter eight, as Lou is just talking to her on the phone, we get an info dump on this woman.
Here’s how it goes, in the book:
[Lou, who is talking to his fan, Cherri, on the telephone:] “I guess I should be flattered, but this is a dangerous case. I’ve gotten threats and a couple of people I’ve already interviewed have died. I don’t want you in danger.”
[Cherri:] “I’ll take the risk. Please take me on, Lou.”
Cherri was an attractive 42-year-old woman who fit the image of one living in Copper Harbor. She loved the outdoors, the rugged country, and being with people who like to live in a beautiful yet private area. She could present herself as a businesswoman or a trapper…
I didn’t want to type out that entire expositional paragraph, so there’s the first couple sentences of it. But where Baldwin put this info dump is not the place to put an info dump about a character that the protagonist hasn’t even yet. And I feel like there’s a very simple fix to all this: that info that I got while these two characters haven’t even seen each other yet should have been moved forward to the scene where Lou actually sees Cherri for the first time.
Another example of a problem in this book, this time from some missing information. In chapter 9, Lou goes to talk with some folks at a church who, as part of their ministry outreach, looked out for one of the characters who gets accused of murder.
Here’s the next block in question:
On April 17, Lou stopped at the Lutheran Church and asked to speak to the pastor. The associate pastor, Lily Guido, was in and would be more appropriate because she handled ministry to the community, coordinated meals, and visits to those in need.
So, almost apropos of nothing, Lou goes to talk to a church leader and is recommended to speak to another church leader, and as the reader I have to infer the context from the next paragraph, which talks about the church secretary. So, I guess she was the one who gave Lou the information? I don’t know how this slipped by the proofreader, because a few changes would have made this flow better. Here’s how I think it should have read:
On April 17, Lou stopped at the Lutheran Church and asked to speak to the pastor. He was informed bv the church secretary that the associate pastor, Lily Guido, was in and would be more appropriate for him to speak to in this instance because she handled ministry to the community; coordinating meals and visits to those in need.
A smaller random pieceof information I could have done without comes further along in the book, where I’m told the Prosecutor’s name is Constance (Connie) Shafer. The parenthesis were what was used in the book, and to be honest, since she’s only referred to by name twice if memory serves, I don’t think I needed to know her nickname.
Apart from that, I rather liked the story. The plot isn’t overly elaborate, which makes for a pretty simple read (see why I like to get these while I’m on vacation?) but (SPOILERS AHEAD!!) there were enough false flag clues from the sheriff that I, like Cherri, began to suspect that he was involved somehow, even though he wasn’t.
If you’re looking for a clean detective read with a simple plotline that will engage you you might want to check this one out. I like it, but some people might find the problems I’ve listed here completely unforgivable. For me, this one’s still going on my bookshelf. Hopefully the next Lou Searing novel I get won’t suffer from the problems I’ve mentioned here.