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Good evening mystery lovers,

Make sure to read through until the end of this email, Nicole attended the Harlan Coben event and took some notes for us. No spoilers, but he confirmed he’s writing another book with Wilde.

Last week Crime & Beyond met to discuss The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben. I think it’s the closest we’ve ever been to agreement on scores for a book. I don’t think I’ve ever listed the scores and just had 3 to report:

Four 7s
Eleven 8s
Five 9s

Not only were we right in line with each other, but the scores show that we all pretty much enjoyed the book. We agreed that it was: a fast read, we love Harlan Coben’s books in general, we liked Wilde, enjoyed the twists and turns, many of us liked Hester’s sarcasm and quick wit, we liked the strong female characters, we liked the banter between characters, and it was fun to see some of the aspects of the Myron books appear (Yoohoo and “Articulate”).

A book is never without a bit of criticism. There were a few things we found lacking, even if they were minor. We could have done without the political aspect of the story (this was a common criticism), we didn’t think Wilde going to Costa Rica at the end was particularly believable, it got a bit wordy in the middle, and there were too many side stories that weren’t relevant to the plot. Jose’s additional criticism was that Wilde wasn’t particularly original, we’ve seen this character before – in a different setting, maybe by another name. Jose was a bit disappointed in Harlan, he thought Wilde was bland and Hester’s love affair was a bit too much (several people agreed with this).

Dori noted that everyone in the book had done something morally wrong, but each person felt that they were justified. Christina introduced the term “long range evil.” Nicole pointed out that the book had a Hollywood ending, which it really did. Perhaps it will turn into a new Netflix series.

Given that everyone had an evil side, we each put in our vote for who was the most deplorable character. We got lots of votes for the Rusty/Dash/Dahlia trio, but other than that trifecta, Rusty and Dahlia had the most votes.

Thanks to everyone who put books on our book vote list. I’m closing it out because we have over 30 titles on the list and we’re only picking 6—there’s even one I keep removing from Book Movement and it keeps showing back up, it’s uncanny. The good news is, we will pick 6 for the club and you have 24+ more possibilities for your outside reading, TBR pile.

I will be sending the book vote out in a couple of days, once I put together the descriptions and number of copies. If you put a book on the list that you don’t see on our vote sheet, it’s because the library doesn’t carry it. Every once and awhile we get a suggested book that doesn’t appear in the library catalog. Even though we’re open to reading books with few copies (since we have several library systems, Kindle, Audible, and other ways to get them) we try to pick books that Douglas County at least has a few copies of. The December book is the only time this doesn’t apply, and I usually buy 5-6 copies and give them away as prizes in order to make up for it.

Speaking of December, as most of you know, we like to read a classic crime story (hopefully taking place at Christmas) along the lines of Agatha Christie, so if you have any suggestions for a Christmas book let me know. That’s the only one I’ll still take ideas for. Please email me within the next couple of days if you have an idea. Otherwise, I’ll do a bit of googling on the interwebs.

I’ll see everyone on Zoom on April 26th to discuss The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah. I’ll send the Zoom info again before the meeting, but it’s the same recurring meeting link.

Our library liaison and newest member, Nicole, attended the virtual Harlan Coben event and took some notes for us. Thanks so much Nicole!! Here’s what she found out:

Some insight into the Win book without spoilers:
He feels Win is a Sociopath but also human and fun and a type of superhero. He wrote Win as a sidekick character that is why it has taken so long to have his own book.
He wrote the Win character based on his college roommate who would say "It must suck to be ugly."
Win is a character that even though some of his actions repulse you, you still like him.
He spoke about plotting for this book, how he had many strands (painting heist, radicals from 1960, heiress, kidnapping) and then realized that these all take place in Win's world this is why he finally gave Win his own book, the reason he resisted so long is that he felt less is more.

Insight into Harlan Coben's writing.
The way he writes is he knows the beginning and the end and then the way he gets there is an adventure. He does many revisions going back over the writing from the day before many times.
He is not a disciplined writer who sits down each day and writes 1000 words he thinks about the book all the time, so the writing is already in his head.
This was funny - they asked him how he manages his load with books and TV and he said he has no other interest, what else can I do but write?
They asked him what the best advice about writing was, it was by Elmore Leonard " try to cut out all the parts you normally skip when reading." This moves the story along and keeps it compelling, write like every word matters. He has a love-hate relationship with his books from one day to the next it is either the best or worst of his books, he cares that the book is great he says when you stop caring then you should stop.

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