Mystery, Thriller (?)
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 2nd, 2014 by Harper
Note: As a tour host selected by TLC virtual book tours, I received a complimentary copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
It’s 2015 and aspiring novelist Stacey Kim visits a photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. She sees a photo by Kathy Moran of a woman on beach wearing a wedding dress, holding an antique six shooter behind her back—titled “Woman With a Gun.” Immediately Stacey is taken in. Who is this woman? Why is she in a wedding dress? Is she suicidal? Homicidal? Why that gun? When she finds out that this photo is from an enigmatic murder investigation ten years ago, she can’t resist. She must know more. She decides to wtite a novel inspired by this photograph.
From there, the story goes back in time, switching from 2000 to 2005, giving us the background of the photo. We follow the prosecutor of the case, the photographer of “Woman with a Gun,” and other characters to learn the truth behind the image—and what mysteries still remain.
I really like the premise to this story! The idea of the photograph inspiring a newbie novelist is really intriguing. The entire plot of the novel revolves around that photo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well, Margolin says they’re worth more words than that-this ones worth s whole novel!
While I really enjoyed the premise, I think that, personally, I would have executed it a bit differently. There is nothing wrong with Woman With a Gun’s structure, but I think I would have found it more interesting if any one of the characters were explored more in depth. This novel seems to be almost entirely plot-based. I think I would have enjoyed it more if there was a clear protagonist and we experienced some character development. The characters as they are are quite three-dimensional, but I did not experience a lot of change in any of them throughout—they didn’t grow. Not only that, but the perspective seemed to continually shift in order to best serve the needs of the plot. This at times was a bit much— like getting a chapter from a very, very minor character’s perspective, and never really hear about them again.
That being said, I did enjoy the novel. It was a solid murder mystery. I did not, however, find that it was a thriller, which is how it is marketed. There was nothing particularly thrilling about it. It was a legal/police mystery procedural for the most part—and a pretty good one at that!
If you like traditional-style mysteries that aren’t totally clichéd, give this one a go!
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Phillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
Phillip’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, December 2nd: The Steadfast Reader
Tuesday, December 2nd: Staircase Wit
Wednesday, December 3rd: Books in the Burbs
Thursday, December 4th: Under My Apple Tree
Monday, December 8th: The Daily Dosage
Tuesday, December 9th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, December 10th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, December 10th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, December 10th: Great Minds Read Alike
Thursday, December 11th: Bibliotica
Friday, December 12th: FictionZeal
Monday, December 15th: Fuelled by Fiction
Tuesday, December 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, December 17th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, December 18th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Friday, December 19th: Reading in Black & White
Monday, December 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook
Tuesday, December 23rd: Living in the Kitchen
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.