Monday, September 4, 2017

Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 23, 2017

What happened to Irene? When Anna Coughlin, a modern 1920’s woman, travels to the secluded hills of Virginia to work for wealthy Lawrence Richardson, she discovers that the previous secretary, Irene, has mysteriously disappeared. Upon arriving at the castle-like mansion, Anna finds that Lawrence’s handsome, but antagonistic son, Tyler, wants nothing more than to have her gone. And he isn’t the only one—Caught up in a maze of intrigue in a tormented and troubled household, Anna sets out to find the truth behind Irene’s disappearance. She is helped—and often hindered—by the temperamental Tyler Richardson, who—despite her best intentions—begins to steal her heart. But even as Anna begins to uncover dark secrets, she must continue to hide a significant one of her own. Then, her life is threatened, and Anna is left to wonder if she’ll be able to unravel the mystery before she disappears as mysteriously as the unfortunate Irene...

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Marlene Bateman’s Searching for Irene caught my eye awhile back, but the reality of the novel failed to satisfy my tastes and I have to admit I’d have great difficulty recommending it forward.

I hate sounding so blasé, but I have this crazy idea that a whodunit should leave the audience wondering ‘who done it?’ for at least some portion of the narrative. The reader shouldn’t be able to peg the culprit the moment the character enters the story and they shouldn’t catch themselves yawning as the cast slowly pieces things together.

I kept reading in hope that Bateman would throw me a curveball or at least create a motive or twist I didn’t anticipate, but neither materialized and I finished the novel feeling cheated of the time I spent with it. The story wasn’t bad, but it never took off.

The novel is light on historic detail and the characterizations lack the depth and complexity I crave. The story isn’t bad, but it’s more of a beach read than it is suspenseful page-turner.

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His words kindles a fire that glinted in Anna's eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her.
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