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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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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!
JANA
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on 2 June 2012
This was the first book I had read by this author and I totally loved it! It's the first who-dunnit I have ever read that wasn't from the point of a detective. It really made you feel for the characters, dealing with the grief of tragedy hitting so close to home, wanting answers, whilst trying to get on with everyday life. She builds an intricate, totally believable story that kept me guessing right until the end. I couldn't read the last few chapters fast enough. Have just bought all her other titles- lets' hope it's not a one off!!
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"Seven Minutes to Noon" is an early Katia Lief novel, dating from 2005, originally published under the name of Kate Pepper. Fans of this highly prolific author's later books (such as "You Are Next") now turning to her earlier works in the hope of finding the same evocative scene-setting will not be disappointed, at least as far as the atmospherics are concerned. Here, she conjures a perfect image of the leafy brown-stone housing areas of Brooklyn and portrays superbly the life-style values and priorities of its modern up-market urbanites. When it comes to handling the thriller aspects of the story, you can tell that this is an early work.

As the book proceeds, it portrays well the personal responses and concerns of the main protagonist and very convincingly leads the reader into the mind of a heavily pregnant mother of two in the days following the disappearance and subsequent murder of her best friend, herself in the last month of pregnancy. Simple domestic concerns are replaced with confusion, fear and paranoia, all of which build steadily as events unfold and the tension mounts.

Sadly, the story is let down by a less than credible and overly convoluted murder plot with more threads than can be tied off satisfactorily and with too many unbelievable aspects along the way. Also, in trying to avoid a predictable or hackneyed conclusion, the author seems to have opted for no real conclusion at all, depriving the reader the satisfaction of closure at the end. As a chick-lit novel with an air of tension, the book has its merits; as a murder mystery, it is something of a mess and at times highly frustrating. As a book, it is probably best saved for the beach, or some other occasion when all you need is something light to pass the time. And if you happen to be pregnant yourself, I would recommend giving it a miss altogether!
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on 26 January 2014
To be fair the story did hold my interest, if only because there were so many strands running through it that I wanted to find out how they all fitted together in the end. Unfortunately I never did find out because so many of them were left unanswered or were basically roads to nowhere. I have read a couple of Katia Lief's books before and enjoyed them but Seven Minutes to Noon was just too contrived to be believable. Never in a million years would the police share as much information with a member of the public as Alice was given in this story, would they really wire up a woman who was 6 months pregnant and send her to have a conversation with a suspect, I think not, and whatever the story was behind the first 'victim', the cushions with random initials, chauffeur with odd eyes and the artist on the bridge we will never know.
The eventual ending (if it can be called that) was bizarre in the extreme and completely unsatisfying in terms of bringing any closure to the story. Sorry Ms Lief but this is definitely not one of your better offerings.
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on 14 January 2013
Being a Mother I found this book very emotional as I do with any story involving children...the Author describes the characters so well and you feel that you are living through the heartbreak and are alongside them as they drag themselves along and keep going and get through each day...personally I loved it and read it very quickly. I related to the strong bond between various friends so acurately described in the book and found the plot really good. At times I was so lost in the book I really felt that I was in New-York....if was a good price too.....well worth it.
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on 3 March 2014
First book I have read by this author, lots of twists, gets you thinking, trying to solve it. Couldn't put it down. The only let down was the ending, to much of a coincidence......in the back of beyond....really?
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on 14 March 2013
I chose this because it mentions Brooklyn and I am about to go there so thought it would make a good background. I think it did. Suburban living is quite well portrayed. Parks and streets. However the constant panic and hysteria frustrated me. It made a good story but with a lot of editing could have been half the length and perhaps more satisfying.
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on 27 December 2012
Katia Lief pulls it off every time. Something fresh and compelling again. Just the kind of book I really love because I cant put it down, but at the same time I dont want to finish it. Just as well she has a few more.
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on 15 May 2013
This was an easy enough read, but not the most gripping thriller I've ever read. I have to say the main character got on my nerves a little, which always puts me off and the outcome of the who dunnit left me a bit flat too. Having said that, anyone who reads a lot will think this is an ok book to pass the time, and is cheap, so can't complaing too much.
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on 17 April 2012
This is the first time I've read a novel by Katia Lief and thoroughly enjoyed it and my first experience using my kindle. The suspense of 'who did it' was kept right to the end and I've since purchased other titles by this author. A great read that had me in tears on occasions and brought my recent trip to New York back to life!
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