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A Big Disappointment!!
on 24 August 2005
I picked up Kate Pepper's "Seven Minutes To Noon," curious to see if she was able to capture the urban Brooklyn setting I am so familiar with as a New Yorker. She does indeed succeed in bringing the area vividly to life - Carroll Park, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill with its green and leafy brownstone-lined streets and upscale shops, the results of many gentrification projects which have sent real estate prices soaring. The book would be near perfect if Ms. Pepper's suspense thriller storyline mirrored her flair for descriptive writing. Unfortunately, it does not. Her writing is laborious and the pace plods. The conclusion is weak, not very credible at all, and threads are left dangling. Truthfully, beach reads like this one are a dime a dozen on today's market. (This is not a derogatory statement about light fiction. I am talking about quality and being a selective reader). This novel is mediocre, at best. From her descriptive style, character development, knowledge of children and the ability to capture their antics on the printed page, I think Kate Pepper is talented enough to improve her storytelling, tighten up her narrative, pick up her pace considerably and come up with a winner. This one is definitely not!
The plot basics concern Alice Halpern, homemaker, shoe store co-owner, mother of young Peter and Nell, wife to Mike, and pregnant with twins on the way. She waits to have coffee with friend Lauren, also pregnant, in her last month. They planned to meet in Carroll Park today and then pick up their children from school together. Lauren doesn't show. And when she finally does, she is a corpse, the baby torn from her womb and missing. Later the police mention to Alice that her friend is not the first pregnant woman to go missing in the neighborhood. As the story progresses, Alice begins to fear for herself and her unborn babies. As she approaches her ninth month she senses that she is being stalked. As her previously safe middle class existence turns into a world of nightmares, keeping the twins safe becomes her overwhelming priority.
I think the audience for this type of "domestic" mystery is limited to women, since much of the narrative not dealing with crime is devoted to pregnancy, birth, child rearing, women's friendships and midlife crises, etc.. I really cannot recommend "Seven Minutes To Noon," but will take a look at Kate Pepper's next novel when it hits the shelves. I wish her good luck!