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Crime & Beyond met in October to discuss The Hush by John Hart.

Amazon’s description of the book: It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost. But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.

The book was billed as a sequel, but we all agreed that it really wasn’t. It did follow the character of Johnny Merriman 10 years later, but was otherwise not a sequel. We have a lot of John Hart fans in the group, so there was a mixed review of The Hush. I think a lot of the hard core fans of his earlier books weren’t as pleased with this one. Especially those whose favorite was The Last Child.

Jose had everyone give us one good and one bad thing about the book (we left off the ugly). The goods were: it was well-written, it was good to veer off of our typical book type, there were good character descriptions, people and places were well described and we felt like we were there, we liked Jack and Johnny’s friendship, loved to see the rich guy die a painful death (I’m not gonna pretend here – we ALL know that one was Amy), the beginning was great (spoiler alert, this person didn’t like the ending), liked the backstory of the slaves from Africa, and Hart is an excellent writer.

Now to the bad: it bugged us that the Sheriff was stereotypically hell bent on Johnny being guilty, didn’t like the supernatural, was reminded of Dennis Lehane book (that we also didn’t love), couldn’t even finish it, the policeman was a dick, too far afield with Aina in the dirt but not dead all this time, didn’t like the ending, Raj felt like she was in a corn maze and couldn’t find her way out, and Dennis felt like in the beginning of the book he was in a sports car with the top down but by the end he felt like he’d made a left turn and ended up in a ditch.

I think the plot was the issue for most of us. Someone said that Johnny was an “unhelpful witness” and I think this is a good term. He wasn’t unreliable, just unhelpful. Also, it wasn’t a whodunit, it was clearly a whatdunit. Many of us didn’t care for that. Perhaps of we had expected it, it would have been different.

Stephanie delivered again, with her witty one sentence summary (remember that Michael Connelly’s Ballard is “Bosch in a Bra”). Her take on this book: “Johnny Merriman is the Heathcliff of the swamp.”

The best quote of the night really sums up the book. I didn’t write down who said it, but here it is: “Do you understand what this book is about, because I truly don’t.”

Jeff won the costume contest as a T-Rex. Jose stayed alive long enough to lead the discussion, although the blood loss, if the blood spatter on his shirt was any indicator, was significant. Janice’s lobster costume had me craving seafood.

Thank you to Jose for leading and Cindy and Sharon Klein for bring snacks – both healthy AND unhealthy. Loved the skeleton vege tray for Halloween (his ribs especially).

Next month we will meet on November 26 to discuss The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. I will lead and Denise will provide a snack.

See you then & Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. This is for those of you that received a copy of the Christmas book as a prize (Jeff, you can stop reading now – we know you didn’t get one - ha). Before I gave them out, I paged through to make sure there weren’t any obvious notes on the puzzles so that it wasn’t a spoiler. However, I didn’t specifically look at the final crossword to make sure. Before you start the book, check the final page. It’s not numbered, but would be 186 if it were. If you see any writing, immediately close the book. I will send you a clean copy of the puzzle so you can solve it yourself. If you check now, any spoilers you see will be forgotten before you read the book (unless you’re an over achiever and have already read it). If you’re like me, you’ll forget before you send me the email, but either way, I have a clean copy for you.

Kerry

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