Friday, July 18, 2008

REVIEW: 18 Seconds

Title: 18 Seconds
Author: George D. Shuman
Protagonist(s): psychic Sherry Moore and Lieutenant Kelly O'Shaughnessy of the Wildwood, New Jersey Police Department
Setting: present-day Wildwood, New Jersey
Series: #1
Rating: C+

First Line: Sherry stepped off the courtesy cart near the hotel kiosk in the ground transportation level of the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Sherry Moore is blind, knows martial arts, and happens to be beautiful. She also can hold the hand of a dead person and see what went through that person's mind during the last 18 seconds of his life. Lieutenant Kelly O'Shaughnessy has recently been promoted in the Wildwood, New Jersey Police Department. She's thrown her cheating husband out of the house and now spends a lot of time trying to remember the last place in which she dropped off her two young daughters. Earl Sykes is fresh out of prison and back on the streets of Wildwood. Not only does he want revenge for his lost years, but he's back to his favorite past time: abducting, raping and murdering young women--a crime for which he's never been caught. It doesn't take long for the first two characters to be in search of the third.

Well, figuratively speaking it doesn't take long. Seemed to take a couple of decades to me. I liked Sherry and Kelly, and Earl was suitably creepy, but the first two thirds of the book were in definite need of tightening. I almost gave up several times, but on the recommendation of a friend, I kept on till the end. I'm glad I did. When all the elements gelled, I was riveted to the page. Besides the draggy 200 pages, I had another couple of quibbles as I was reading: the book is the first in the series centering on the character of Sherry, yet after a minimal appearance in the first 75 pages, she disappears until the last third. The second quibble involves Shuman's continual description of Sherry as "beautiful", "very beautiful" and "breathtaking". I'm of the reading camp who doesn't require each and every character to be physically described down to the last hair on their heads. I'm much more interested in characters' speech and behavior. Reading over and over of how beautiful Sherry is just downright grated after a while, but then I tend to espouse Homer's description of Helen of Troy--he never did. Homer merely stated that whenever Helen was in view, all the men's eyes followed her. 'nuff said!

I'm doubtful at this point whether or not I will continue with this series. If Shuman tightens up the next one, brings Sherry front and center, and knocks off with the beautiful jazz, I'd be willing to give the series another shot.

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