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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Right Call by Kathy Herman

Ethan Langley has returned to the Tennessee town of Sophie Trace to enjoy his summer with the Jessups-namely their daughter Vanessa and her infant son Carter. He wants to know how deep their relationship can go during the summer and whether or not they are right for each other. He is also looking forward to seeing his cousin, Drew, who he grew up with. But Ethan's plans change when Drew's roommate is brutally murdered by a gunman who eventually shoots two more people dead. Brill Jessup is naturally on top of the case, but there are no concrete suspects since Drew never saw the killer. Ethan fears for the lives of Drew, Vanessa, and Carter and wonders if one of them will be next. But when the shooter finally does hit close to home for Ethan, he wonders what move he should make next. Can he make the right call and save the lives of more victims?

The illustrious conclusion to the Sophie Trace trilogy yields little to get excited about since Kathy Herman has still not completely returned to her originality of old. Through robotic characters, an average plot, and a cheesy end that leads to another series, the Sophie Trace Trilogy becomes an average and very forgettable series among Christian fiction.

Robotic and uncreative dialogue creates many robotic characters without personalities. Ethan, Vanessa, Brill, Kurt, Emily, Drew, and others lost whatever personality or imperfection they had in the first two books of the series. Tessa, the famous nosy neighbor, and one of Ethan's coworkers are the only believable and interesting characters in the entire book. The villain is better than not because he is not a mindless shooting machine. Kathy's bit of dialogue "Look for a fox instead of a lion" is an adage all suspense authors need to live by when creating their villains.

The romantic subplot between Ethan and Vanessa is the heighth of cheesiness, but at least Vanessa didn't play the 'I-hate-you-then-I-love-you' bit. Brill's inevitable police case is better than the other cases of this series, mostly because it is based on gambling addictions. An added plus to this is the fact that Kathy completely avoided a showdown between the villain and any of the key characters. Also, a key character dies in the middle of the book. However, the end of the book is still cheesy because a key character suspect was proven innocent in the end, not to mention what transpired between Ethan and Vanessa in order to set up another series.

Kathy Herman may be making a turn back to her past, but she definitely needs to get some help with character development if she expects to take the next step. She has proven before that she knows how to write a good mystery, but she has never mastered character development. Perhaps she will surprise us all in the Langley Manor trilogy.

2.5 stars

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