Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Naturals

Cassie is a natural profiler, learning to read people from her “psychic” mother. After her mother disappears and is presumed dead, Cassie moves in with her paternal grandmother but never feels like she belongs with the large Italian family. When she’s approached by another “natural” to join a small group of teens trained by the FBI to solve cold cases, she jumps at the change, hoping to solve her own mother’s cold case. The book introduces four naturals besides Cassie, prepping for a series of books featuring the agents-in-training.

The Naturals is a fast and enjoyable read. It is similar to watching a procedural drama on television and certainly does not tax the brain, but pleasure reading should be just that—pleasurable.

The Small Hand and Dolly

The best way to describe Susan Hill’s novellas The Small Hand and Dolly is moody. Hill does an excellent job of creating an unsettling mood in both stories. In one, a rare book seller is haunted by the feel of an invisible, small hand in his. In the second, two cousins are haunted by a childhood experience with a porcelain doll. As I read the stories, I could imagine them as chilling movies that would make the audience edgy with suspense.

 Unfortunately, mood is not enough. The stories tend to ramble and seem filled with unnecessary detail. Where the plots are going is often unclear, and the journey is more tedious than pleasurable. The novellas simply are not page turners, and I found myself plodding through them out of a sense of obligation rather than enjoyment.