2 out of 4 stars
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J.J. Holt's White Night impressively blends mystery, action, and humanity in 344 pages. Delve into the story of Detective Jennifer Connors as she finds herself uneasy coming back to the force. As her last case brought up whispers of doubts regarding her competency and sanity, she stubbornly convinces herself to put up with it. Even without the murmurs from co-workers, the pain shooting up her leg is a daily reminder of that unfortunate accident. Would she succumb to regret and find a different path? However, how could she abandon the only life she'd ever known?
Like any crime mystery, the book starts with a case of a dead body showing up for the detective protagonist to solve. As Detective Connors gets herself a new partner, the challenge to overcome her past wounds just got harder. The author did a remarkable job of providing depth to Connors' character. I liked how each move she made throughout the case resonated with her personality and her development as a character. Also, what kept me going was the evasive truth of who could be the police officer involved in the crime; I think this aspect was what I liked most in the book. The author was able to maintain that mystery until the revelation.
Unfortunately, I think the book didn't quite live up to its genre as a crime mystery. Having read a number of them, I can't help but notice that there wasn't enough urgency during the investigation. The build-ups of the action scenes were weak as well, lessening the element of surprise and suspense. The way the conflicts and plot twists were revealed we're also too dry; it was like the author was stating the obvious. Moreover, there were too many characters and perspectives involved that made the plot confusing and tedious. Giving even passing characters backstories is unnecessary and does nothing but lengthens the plot to the point that it becomes dreary. It was like the pieces were already laid-out one by one but the author was just taking too long to wrap things up. It would seem to me that the author focused more on character-building—which diminished the supposed tension of the genre.
The grammatical errors noted were mostly double punctuations and a lack of articles in some sentences. I think having to resort in using double punctuations means weak delivery of words and thoughts. They were a bit distracting, but it's not something another round of editing can't fix.
White Night was interesting in its own way, but it felt more like a character-driven book than being a crime mystery. The pace was too slow for such an obvious plot. I see the whole story as a dedication to Detective Connors' character development as a police officer and as a woman; although remarkable, it did not capture the advertised and expected theme. With all the points made above plus the errors, I give this book a 2 out of 4 stars rating. If this had been identified as a whole other genre, I think I would have given it a different rating. Having personal preferences in books is normal; thus, veering away those who are expecting a suspenseful plot to a deeper yet sluggish one could cause frustrations and dissatisfaction.
If you like character-driven books with a crime mystery, then I would recommend this. However, fans of action-driven crime mysteries might see it the way I do and will be uninterested in reading the rest of the book. There is some profanity used so this is not suitable for young readers.
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