After flip-flopping politicians, tax-complaining millionaires and Charlie Sheen, second novels might be the easiest targets for critical skewering. Well-received literary introductions have a way of sucking the excitement right out of whatever books trail them. Second entries in crime-fiction series face the same challenges. The familiar grumble is that the author poured everything he or she had into the original book, and the sophomore endeavor lacks the same energy and commitment. Thus, for instance, Martin Cruz Smith’s Polar Star (1989) foundered in the wake of Gorky Park (1981), Caleb Carr’s The Angel of Darkness (1997) was met with yawns by many admirers of The Alienist (1994) and Rennie Airth’s The Blood-Dimmed Tide (2004) never attained the high-water mark of acclaim set by its hypnotic predecessor, River of Darkness (1999).You’ll find the full critique here. Let me know what you think.
Jassy Mackenzie’s Stolen Lives, though, manages to dodge that curse. In fact, for my money, this second Jade de Jong detective novel outshines her debut.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
My review of Stolen Lives (Soho Press), Jassy Mackenzie’s second South Africa-set detective novel, following last year’s Random Violence, appears today at the Kirkus Reviews site. It begins: