Book Buzz Updated September 23, 2014
Where I Live
Stone Cold – A review of the novel ‘Revenge is Sweet’
“Revenge proves its own executioner” - John Ford
As much as everyone would like to distance themselves from this apparent ‘primitive’ notion, everyone enjoys a good revenge tale. Something about it is hard wired into our brains, a psychological impulse that says tit for tat is just and necessary under the right circumstances.
Author Betta Ferrendelli returns with the second book in the Samantha Church Mystery series, titled ‘Revenge is Sweet’. Starting off from where the last book ended, the characters of Samantha Church, her daughter April and her friend and co worker Wilson Cole Jr have to reap the consequences of her actions in the previous outing. After Sam successfully unearths a massive illegal drug operation and helps put the people behind it in bars in Friday Edition, this time around she has to deal with some sinister people who are out for revenge and indulge in kidnapping and torture to make their point. This thriller isn’t just about solving the mystery behind the kidnappings but also showing how the main protagonist deals with her inner demons through this extremely difficult and trying period.
In a space dominated by crime fighting solitary male wolves, Samantha Church is a welcome change and a refreshing distraction. After a slow start that sets up the scenario of the grave situation to the readers, the novel then goes into overdrive and you will find yourself turning the pages anxiously trying to find out what is going to happen to Sam and her daughter April. The pacing has always been one of the biggest strengths of this series and it continues in this book as well. Betta takes care to describe even snowflakes and the wattage of power bulbs as she does with the complex emotions of her characters and yet the pages fly by quickly.
There are a lot of key points that are worth mentioning here. The bad guys she has created for example, Betta’s Juan, the twins and Fuzz face are a bunch of nicely written villainous characters, the evilness especially of Juan is menacing and dark and the accompanying violence is necessary to mark them out as the bad people and make you further empathize with the characters of Sam, Wilson and April. The chemistry between David and Howard provides some airy refreshment when compared to the dark mood in the background, the way they come to Sam’s and Wilson’s rescue at the end is a nicely written pulse raising fight scene. Sam’s letter to April deserves a couple of rereads for its lyrical prose and heart tugging raw emotions portrayed in it.
Revenge is Sweet is a more emotional and intimate story when compared to the previous book. The story is easy to follow, well written, true to life, and spell binding. Even though the characters have many twists and turns in their emotional baggage, they are all well developed. One of the book's main strengths is that even the secondary characters are fully etched out, they are some interesting characters and you become deeply involved with what is happening to them as well. Also praiseworthy is the way she gets inside the head of each of her characters and creates a unique and distinct voice for them.
Next book in the series is Dead Wrong and if Betta Ferrendelli’s previous works are any indication then you can be dead sure that it too will be a winner!
Stranger than Fiction – A review of the novel ‘The Friday Edition’
“To live alone is the fate of all great souls” - Arthur Schopenhauer
In author Betta Ferrendelli’s novel ‘The Friday Edition’ the lead character of Samantha Church is introduced as a reporter working in a weekly community newspaper. She is shown as a miserable and yet sympathetic soul with a drinking problem that has resulted in a divorce, custody loss of her only child and also loss of a better reporting job. Her life takes a complete 360˚ the day she comes to learn about her sister and assistant DA, Robin’s death. Although the authorities are quick to dismiss the death as a clear case of suicide, Samantha is not convinced and takes it upon herself to prove them all wrong. She discovers some highly incriminating evidence that not only points to her sister’s murder but also unsheathes a notorious and vicious drug cartel business that doesn’t mind knocking off as many people as it requires to maintain the status quo of their business. Trying to find out what happened to Robin inadvertently helps Samantha keep her dependence on alcohol under check and try to lead a more well balanced and grounded life. With time running out, Samantha must not only face her inner demons but also the evil lurking at every corner, to take control of her own and her daughter April’s life.
The story seamlessly moves back and forward, revealing the fallout of the murder and also the events leading up to it. The author’s description and portrayal of Samantha as a person suffering from alcohol addiction and the way she copes with it has been brilliantly written and is also very realistically done. She quickly establishes the lead character of Samantha, who in spite of being shown as leading a miserable and sort of lonely life, you still can’t help but empathize and connect with her.
This whodunit mystery by Betta Ferrendelli has this ready to be made into a motion picture like feel to it. The dialogues are both crisp and to the point and yet doesn’t lack in its necessary emotional quotient. The chapters too are short and precise that delivers what it is meant to without dilly dallying on unnecessary banalities. It is well researched too, the details about the newspaper functioning, drug deals/distribution system, etc, are case in point.
The Friday Edition has a well narrated plot with characters you will love and some you will love to hate. There is a gradual build up of suspense which often alters the perception you would be building up in your mind about what is going to happen next. There's plenty of action, which isn’t all loud and in your face variety but more of the silent danger waiting to strike at any moment’s notice kind. There are no long winded self indulgent prose by the author, the writing is precise and snappy and always to the point.
Betta Ferrendelli has an intelligent and powerful voice that is in complete control and mastery of her craft. Her writing really brings the characters to life and you feel like you are in the story with them, which also takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from sadness and heartache to shock and awe. There is a shocking twist in the end that you won’t see coming and a very mature and understated ending which screams for a sequel. You will definitely recommend this book to your friends and family.