Friday, September 9, 2011

A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes

In A Hard Death, Edward Jenner moves to Florida and works as a medical examiner after having his medical license suspended in New York, where a terrible incident has left his career and life in tatters. He needs a break but he's not about to find it here. First, he finds the bodies of his boss and the man's wife in a car, then a phone call leads to more bodies in the swamp. This forensic pathologist, turned medical examiner, must navigate new ground in order to solve these murders.

This was such a good book. Great in fact. It was fast paced, edgy, exciting and all round fantastic thriller. I had a hard time putting the book down. I loved all of the forensic details that Hayes includes. Being a veteran forensic pathologist, he doesn't shy away from the details about the bodies and the deaths. I don't think it was overdone or too much, but other readers might feel differently. I loved it!

I don't know a lot about Florida or about the immigrants who work in the fields there. The information that Hayes provides is interesting as well as troubling. It's hard to believe that the workers could be treated so badly. I'm sure this isn't typical (or at least I hope it's not), but their lives in general can't be easy.

I liked Jenner. I liked him despite the fact that he wasn't a fun-loving, easy-to-like type of guy. He seemed a little rough around the edges and a tad broken by his experience in New York. As for the other characters, there seemed to be a lot of them. That's my one complaint about the book. I had a bit of trouble keeping them all straight. After awhile I started making a list of the new ones I encountered. That helped a lot.

I love short chapters and was thrilled to see them in this book. However, the storyline and writing style didn't exactly fit with them as much as I would have liked. That is, they didn't add as much suspense as they could have. Having said that, I still appreciated them and enjoyed the book.

New words:
allée (page 82): promenade, French
etiolated (page 167): feeble and spiritless
guayabera (page 210): light shirt
clerestory (page 238): top of a wall with windows
vulpine (page 349): fox like

Highly recommended. I can't wait to read more of Hayes's work. I'm definitely going see if I can find a copy of the first book featuring Edward Jenner, Precious Blood.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author and his other work, please visit Jonathan Hayes's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes, HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9780061691768(Uncorrected Proof), 409p.

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