Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Writing Class by Jincy Willett

Title: The Writing Class
Author: Jincy Willett
ISBN: 9780312330668, Thomas Dunne Books, 2008
Genre: Amateur Sleuth
Rating: C+

First Line: Lumbers into class five minutes late, dragging, along with her yard-wide butt, a beat-up vinyl briefcase stuffed with old notebooks.

Amy Gallup used to be a contender. A published and award-winning writer at the age of twenty-two, she now exists by writing blurbs for other authors' books and by teaching creative writing classes for the local university's extension program. Her former life is gone: no career, no husband, just a grumpy, flatulent basset hound who barely tolerates her.

This semester's class is filled with the usual suspects: a doctor who wants to be the next Robin Cook, the enthusiastic repeat student, the slacker, the know-it-all, and so on. Amy's seen them all before. But when students start getting threatening phone calls in the middle of the night and frightening pranks pulled on them out in the parking lot, Amy knows that this class is different. When one of the students is murdered, the class bands together to discover who among them is the killer.

The Writing Class really didn't work as a mystery for me because it took very little thought to realize whom the killer had to be. The occasional chapters written from the killer's point of view were very jarring and pulled me out of the story instead of raising suspense. Where the book did succeed was with the character of Amy herself. She is very well-drawn and comes to life on the page as the details of her life unfold.

Another flash of brilliance was during the class lectures. There is a gold mine of writing tips contained in Amy's lectures, and the information is given in a very entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny style.

If you pick up this book wanting a strong, solid mystery, you may be in for disappointment. If you pick it up wanting a story about a truly involving character who just happens to give great advice on writing, you should enjoy The Writing Class.


  1. Sorry you didn't like this more. I agree that it wasn't much of a mystery but I did enjoy Amy very much so I forgave that.

    It certainly wasn't sold as a mystery here (in bookshops it was in the general fiction section) and I read it after hearing about it on a local radio show and they didn't talk about it being a mystery either - so maybe my being forgiving had something to do with my expectations?

  2. I haven't read this, but the premise sounds promising...too bad it wasn't executed that well.

  3. I think I'd read this just because the main character isn't your typical gorgeous, Hollywood type. And then, I could use some good writing tips. You say the mystery is easy to figure out? That's okay. I could use some easy.

  4. Like Margot, I will consider buying it for the writing tips :D

    I could use some of those.

  5. I love the setting of the book - too bad the mystery's so obvious.

  6. Bernadette-- I think you're spot on. If I hadn't expected this to be a mystery, I think I would've enjoyed it more.

    Serena-- Like Bernadette said above, I think the book would be much more successful if you didn't open it with the assumption that it was a mystery, because Amy is a wonderful character and the writing tips are excellent.

    Margot JR-- Sometimes easy is just the ticket. :)

    Dorte-- I think all of us could use those. ;)

    Kathy-- Don't read it as a mystery, and I think you'll be fine!

  7. I haven't heard of this one before, but it's going on my wish list. I love fiction books that include useful information - like culinary fiction with recipes!

  8. Janel-- It is good to enjoy and learn at the same time. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Thanks for the review; I'll be looking for it :)

  10. Amy does sound like a great character - thanks for the tip. My library has it, so it's now definitely on my list. And I will read it for the characterization and the writing tips and not so much for the mystery!

  11. I didn't know this was a mystery. I think I might like it. Great review!

  12. Belle-- Good idea!

    Stacy-- Thanks!


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