Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book Battle!!! - Linda Howard

I recently read these two books by Linda Howard. Killing Time I bought used hardback for $2.50. Cover of Night I bought new hardback. I guess it evens out because while the latter was a disappointment, the former was pretty decent and entertaining.

Buying a Linda Howard book is kind of like playing the lottery. Sometimes you'll win big and sometimes you'll be pissed you spent the money. She's the author of one of my all-time favorite comtempory romance novels, Mr. Perfect, which is filled with likeable characters and witty, funny, smart dialogue. The campy To Die For is equally as delightful and fun. I've probably read each of those books at least ten times. And she can also write great emotional stories, like Cry No More. But every once in a while you get a real stinker, like Kiss Me While I Sleep. So after that bomb came out, I held off reading Killing Time because it dealt with possibly my least favorite romantic genre - time travel.

I HATE time travel stories, mainly because no matter how clever the author tries to be, it is NEVER, EVER credible. Every single time travel story on earth is riddled with flaws if it involves more than one instance of time travel. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander worked out okay because the heroine went back in time and stayed there. But if too many people start going back in forth, stuff is going to get screwed up. So I was a little surprised to find that I liked Killing Time. There were lots of flaws in the plot, but the characters were likeable and Howard spent enough time with them that their relationship was believable and enjoyable to observe.

I thought I would like Cover of Night more because it dealt with a small town in Idaho where a widow and a handyman live. Then one day some bad guys come to town, and like in the movie A History of Violence, the handyman saves the day and the widow finds out there's more to him than she thought. Unfortunately, everything about this story was ridiculous (assassins who take the small town hostage by blowing out the bridge, water, and power because they want a flash drive a tourist supposedly left there. Yeah, I'm not making that up). And Howard spent about half the book from the viewpoint of the bad guys who were completely uninteresting. I started to skip every scene that didn't have the protagonists in it, and I didn't miss anything. The end was nowhere close to neatly wrapped up. Everything bad just sort of disappeared when the townspeople refused to surrender. And the romance aspect was totally lame because Howard didn't spend enough time with the characters to make us like them.

So the clear winner of this battle was Killing Time, although it was nowhere near to reaching Howard's potential. She obviously has a talent for writing comic stories, so I really wish she would stick to them.

Lindsey's Grades:
Killing Time - B
Cover of Night - C-


Anonymous said...

Like the time travel genre, the "Get... the disk!" genre (to which "Cover of Night" apparently belongs) is inherently flawed. Now, I haven't read the book, but based on what you've written in your review, I would've cheerfully handed over the flash drive to the bad guys... after copying all the contents onto another disk. Maybe the villains have a mysterious machine (we'll call it the Plot Device) which prevents people from copying disks.


Kim said...

I found two of Linda Howard's books today at St. Vincent de Paul and almost bought them for you since they were four dollars total! But then I thought you might be insulted!

Lindsey Lou said...

Well, see Saleri, the thing is, the people in the town didn't even have the flash drive. The bad people just thought that the tourist had left it there since he left other luggage there. Turns out the tourist had the flash drive with him the whole time - and he was in Chicago!