Dead by Wednesday -- Beverly Long
First of all: Apparently I'm in the minority about this book--it's got a lot of glowing reviews.
Second of all: I had only intended to write a short opinion piece... then the ranting started and here we are.
This book wasn’t the worst thing in the world; and to be honest, I thought about cutting it some slack because it wasn’t really as terrible as some of my frustrated mutterings made it seem. But it still wasn’t the best thing in the world either. It was simply your standard, formulaic, carbon-copy romance using a crime thriller as background scenery to give said standard, formulaic, carbon-copy romance a possible story to follow.
And if the crime thriller had had any substance to it, I might have been inclined to enjoy it a little bit more. But the serial killings in the book really took a huge backseat despite the fact that at least two chapters were spent on the investigation process. I just never got the sense that the ‘suspense’ part of this romantic suspense was all that significant to this particular book.
The basic outline of the story is pretty much as follows:
There’s a serial killer targeting teenage and pre-teen boys, who are supposedly dying a gruesome, torturous death. Not that I need detailed descriptions or anything, but, again, I never got the sense that the killings were gruesome or anything. There is a lot more telling about a vague “gruesome murders” happening rather than showing that these were gruesome murders. I hadn’t even realized that the serial killings were gruesome murders until someone had some dialogue somewhere that made a half-hearted mention about it.
I only knew that boys were being murdered. But that’s fine--details of gory murders aren’t really my cuppa anyway, even if I can sometimes enjoy details for the sake of chilly, spine-tingling intrigue. But I’m the type of person who avoids Saw movies like the plagues, so I can live with less gory details.
However, I still need some details.
Back to the book...
Carmen Jimenez is a pregnancy counselor; Robert what’s-his-name (I’ve already turned the book into the library and am too lazy to look up character names I don’t remember) is a police detective. And somehow Carmen’s younger brother gets caught up in the whole mess of murder and intrigue… so somehow Carmen gets caught up in this whole mess as well.
And then the story spirals on from there.
The ideas in this book aren’t bad. In fact, it was the premise that drew my attention anyway--as do most crime thriller premises. Aside from a murder mystery with (unfulfilled) potential, the book brings up a lot of good discussion topics including high school bullying, teens getting wrapped up in gang violence, and teenage pregnancy.
But everything presented in this book is only second (or maybe even third, or fourth) string to the standard, formulaic, carbon-copy romance. Which would have been fine, because I don’t mind a good romance. If the romance was a good romance.
But since the romance really wasn’t all that great, I would have liked some more in-depth substance pertaining to the tangent plotlines dealing with the teenagers in this book--specifically Carmen’s teenage younger brother, Raoul, as he deals with growing up raised by his older sister and struggling to understand his deceased brother, Hector’s life that had lead to said older brother’s death.
Frankly, aside from Raoul, the characters were lackluster and boring and nothing outstanding presents in Dead by Wednesday.
Carmen is the usual romance heroine: cynical, almost virginal, always second-guessing herself, and then in the end, she pulls a TSTL even though she’s supposed to have been a character with some street smarts. For a social worker specializing in teenagers, she doesn’t know how to read her brother--but I’ll give her that, because dealing with family is always different from dealing with clients. Romance-wise, she flashes hot and cold in a very inconsistent manner in a way that makes me extra frustrated. She sends mixed signals and jumps to conclusions and makes wild assumptions and then gets over-dramatic at all the wrong moments.
Mainly, I’m a little disappointed that she made a bad decision that she should have known was a bad decision, that nearly got herself and her brother killed. I know she has spent her entire life fending for herself and her brother, but there is a line between being independent and strong versus being plain reckless.
If you know it’s a dangerous situation and there are other options, don’t just walk right into said dangerous situation without a plan--especially if you’re taking your teenaged younger brother who relies on your protection with you.
I can forgive Raoul for doing stupid things because he’s young and vulnerable and still has time to learn from his mistakes; but Carmen is a grown woman who has already gone through a lot of rough stuff in her life and is described as having street smart experience. And she’s a social worker who guides teenagers into making the right decisions for their lives. So she should know better.
Robert is the usual romance hero: broody, sexually experienced and a ladies’ man, overconfident in his own attractiveness, pushy and determined to get into a woman’s pants no matter that she’s sending him “Back off” signals every other encounter. But because he’s a good man at heart and described as a gentleman in the narration, it’s totally okay for him to force his affections onto a woman who keeps pushing him away. (/sarcasm)
And then he gets all offended when friends are telling him to leave Carmen alone if he’s not serious about her. After all, just because he plays around and has lines of women waiting to sleep with him, doesn’t mean he’s constantly breaking hearts. Not mattering that he knows Carmen is looking for a more committed and serious relationship, and he has admitted that he’s really only in it for the lusty, sexy times and doesn’t know how to do the committed relationship thing… So, hey, stop treating him like he’s an inconsiderate bastard bent on misleading a woman on into thinking that he’s interested in more than just sex.
But, of course, he then just happens to meet the right woman (Carmen, by the way) and suddenly all other women are dead to him. He transforms into a protective caveman, but he goes through the usual “Love? Where did that word come from?” phase and “Marriage? Who needs that kind of lifestyle?” as he goes off and buys an engagement ring. All of this after three scarce encounters with his true love--two of which ended in either mixed signals or the big “Back off” signals.
But that’s fine, Robert and Carmen were meant for each other, so let the instalove roll.
But I’m being harsh. Probably because I’m irritated about stuff.
At the worst, Dead by Wednesday is simply a typical romance with a typical storyline with typical characters. Monotone and boring, but NOT a bad book. At least there was a semblance of a story.
I guess I’m mainly disappointed because I’d been considering reading Beverly Long’s Return to Ravesville books since the moment I read the synopsis of the first book in that series.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- New to Me Author #1
Also Read during Bout of Books 15 -- See Day 6 Update