Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Good Book that Doesn't "Stand Alone."

I often mention how happy I am when I see that a book I have really enjoyed belongs to a series even though it stands alone. When I'm finished reading, I can choose whether or not to go back and devour all the books that came ahead of the current one I'm reading. 

Sometimes, though, the books is so dependent on everything that came before that it is not so enjoyable. My review today is of "Harbor Island: A Sharpe and Donovan Mystery."  Although it is well written, it doesn't fall into that category.

When Emma Sharpe, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, gets a call from a woman she has never met to meet her alone on one of Boston Bay's harbour islands, she was very hesitant. But Rachel Bristol was adamant that she had some information on an art thief that Emma has been tracking. So she decided to risk the meeting. After texting her boyfriend, fellow FBI agent, Colin Donovan, she follows her informant's instructions only to find the woman shot dead in a pool of blood.

This sounds like it should be an excellent and suspenseful read and it would have been had I known anything about what came before. "Harbor Island" is the fourth novel in the "Sharpe and Donovan" series written by Carla Neggers. I felt that I would have enjoyed the book much better if I had read the earlier novels. Some sequels can easily stand-alone and still be an enjoyable read but I didn't feel this was one of them. There are too many references to people I haven't met, and incidents that occurred in the other stories without enough explanation. Other than that, the writing is excellent. The characters, once you have them figured out, well drawn, and the descriptions of a variety of settings superb.

I'm sure if I had read some of the earlier books, I would have found this a 5-star read. Unfortunately I didn't. I suggest that you go back and read the others before you try this one. I'm going to give this series another chance by reading "Declan's Cross," the first in the series.

Just a hint in case you haven't read her other books: in the copy of "Harbor Island" that I have, there is a novella at the end of the book entitled "Rock Point." I think it may be helpful to read that first. It will give you a better understanding of one of the most important characters.

Deer Island, MA
                                Boston Harbor islands from the air

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