Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tell Me When It Hurts
Tell Me When It Hurts
by Christine M. Whitehead
(Hadley Press / 0-982-29460-3 / 978-0-982-29460-4 / June 2009 / 298 pages / $15.99)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for PODBRAM
Here's the setup: a woman graduates from an Ivy-League college, and, uncertain of her career path, begins working as a low-level paper-pusher deep within the Justice Department, where she's eventually encouraged to volunteer for "special training" leading to advancement. It's a two-year course, but when she realizes she's being trained as a hit person (a skill at which she excels) she quits.
She goes to law school, marries, and has a daughter. The daughter is murdered by a sexual predator who gets off due to legal technicalities. The woman's marriage falls apart and she becomes a hard-drinking recluse, blaming herself for her daughter's death.
Then she's contacted by a shadowy group of "volunteers" who have organized to correct just such injustices, mainly by bushwhacking those miscreants who have managed to avoid the wheels of conventional justice. Let us not forget the woman is already trained as a professional assassin. Is this a great premise or what?
Archer Loh is the woman, and the Berkshires of Massachusetts is where she goes to lose herself. Connor McCall is the sheep-owning rancher from Wyoming who becomes her neighbor, thanks to a vacation from sheep shearing. McCall is a low-key, semi-wealthy, secure male, single, crinkly handsome, and a terrific cook among his other appealing attributes, and he begins to draw Archer Loh out of her isolation. Archer has deep psychological problems, however, so can McCall overcome these, and can Archer even grant herself permission to leave the past behind?
That's all the plot this review will mention, or needs to, surely. Any fan of the romance genre should be salivating by now. It's enough to note that the story is a romance, and that the author, for whom this is apparently a first novel, is devoted to the healing arts. The story winds to a conclusion that should satisfy fans of the genre. We will not split hairs over the ethics of private citizens deciding to eliminate other private citizens without the messy imprecision of the legal process.
It should be added that the editing and proofreading are nearly flawless, though the pacing flagged occasionally, and the style, while adequate, did not quite sparkle. The cover, which makes sense in retrospect, could be "grabbier" as well; especially more colorful. Still, the story was a fun read, and given the great concept with which it began, makes it worthwhile to look forward to other fiction by Ms. Whitehead.
See Also: Christine M. Whitehead's Website