Official Review: Requiem for Riley by Roy Ziegler

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BookishCreature
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Official Review: Requiem for Riley by Roy Ziegler

Post by BookishCreature » 23 Jan 2018, 21:01

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Requiem for Riley" by Roy Ziegler.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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A brilliant designer with a host of demons. A business tycoon with a crushing guilt. An investment broker with questionable morals. A physical therapist with a dark side. These men and more inhabit the pages of Roy Ziegler’s Requiem for Riley, in the literary equivalent of a detective’s wall plastered with photos and newspaper clippings, all connected in a tangled mass of yarn. As the story unfolds, so do the relationships between the characters, and they find themselves working together in unexpected ways to get through the conflicts that each of them face.

The book’s synopsis pegs it as a suspense novel focusing on one of the characters and his quest for a fragment of a Mozart manuscript. I feel that this is a little misleading. While there was some mystery to the story, it felt far more like a piece of literary fiction, centered on the lives and thoughts of this group of interconnected characters.

Regardless of the genre, though, I didn’t really enjoy the novel as a whole, and I have to rate it 2 out of 4 stars.

First, what I did like. Ziegler’s ‘wall of photos and yarn’ is very well-constructed. Every character had a detailed backstory, and their relationships were layered and nuanced. Their loyalties, promises, and grudges were the focus of the story, and I couldn’t wait to finish the book so I could see how they all panned out. Each character’s journey was super interesting, and the plot managed to jump back and forth between all the different players without feeling disconnected or confusing the reader.

The issue that knocked two stars off of this book’s rating, though, is the writing. Ziegler consistently tells instead of showing, leading to matter-of-fact prose that has less emotional impact than a newspaper article. Here’s an excerpt featuring the two main characters, Matt and Leo, right after they get into a car wreck that totals their vehicle and leaves them stranded on the side of the highway:
Leo limped slightly.

“Are you … what’s wrong with your leg?”

“It got jammed against the dash. I think it’s okay. How about you?”

“Oh my aching ego! I think it’s badly damaged.”

“Hey, Matt, it’s not your fault. That bus shouldn’t have been in the left lane—and I can’t understand why he had stopped so suddenly.”
With some more powerful description and vivid word choice, I would have been on the edge of my seat. Instead, the bland narration kept me from really getting invested in the characters and their plight.

I was also less-than-impressed with the dialogue. All the characters speak with a distracting formality, as if they’d written their lines beforehand and practiced them in the mirror. Adding to the scripted feeling was the fact that most of the conversation took place in a vacuum – long streams of dialogue without any narration or description to break them up. I wish the author had interspersed more detail. I wanted to know what the characters were doing and feeling as they spoke. The unnatural dialogue took a toll on the occasional sexy scenes as well, rendering them awkward and faintly uncomfortable instead of erotic.

Requiem for Riley has its redeeming qualities, but it’s certainly not a suspense novel, and not a book I’d recommend to most of my friends. The well-crafted plot saves it from a one-star rating, and I’d still tentatively recommend it to diehard lovers of literary fiction, especially if the thought of unraveling a web of friendships and secrets sounds like something you’d enjoy. If you’re looking for the thriller that the synopsis promises, though, I’d look elsewhere.

******
Requiem for Riley
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Post by Hildah Mose » 26 Jan 2018, 01:35

That was a handful. I don't think I'd ever want to read this book. Thanks though for your honesty.

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Post by KamalK » 26 Jan 2018, 02:18

I have come across such books before. The ones that seem promising with good storylines and potential characters. But the bad writing style undoes all the good things about it.

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Post by kandscreeley » 26 Jan 2018, 08:30

I think dialogue is one of the hardest things to write naturally. I'm sorry that you didn't get to enjoy this one. It sounds like a good premise that needs a bit of work to make it great. Thanks for the information!
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Post by Yolimari » 26 Jan 2018, 08:46

I would not read this book, even though it sounds like the plot could have been interesting. I do not like when authors tell rather than show. Thanks for the review!
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Post by BookishCreature » 26 Jan 2018, 12:29

Thank you all for the comments! Definitely a good premise, but yeah... dialogue is really hard to do naturally. Who knows, maybe it'll get a rewrite one of these days?

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Post by BethanyBain » 26 Jan 2018, 15:05

Sounds like this book had a lot of good ideas with poor execution. Hopefully the author learns from his mistakes in his future novels because it would be a shame to have such good ideas go to waste. I probably would not read the novel based on this review but I appreciate the honesty of it.

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Post by Kat Berg » 26 Jan 2018, 15:23

Oh my, I have read (and reviewed!) the kind of book you are talking about! The worst is when they also have horrible grammar to make it especially painful to read. As hard as dialogue is to do and get right, I think that for some writers the fine details are even harder. They have a good story, but it is like they are impatient to get it over with and can't be bothered with helping us to enter their world and all its ugliness or beauty. And you are right, sexy scenes in this style are beyond awkward. Thanks for your review.

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Post by BookishCreature » 26 Jan 2018, 20:09

You know the pain! Thankfully the grammar was good in this one, but everything felt so... alien. It was odd.

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 27 Jan 2018, 01:02

The plot seems to be interesting , but as you mentioned, the story is bit awkward. Thanks for this nice and critical review.
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Post by Cotwani » 29 Jan 2018, 16:54

Oh dear, how unfortunate that a good premise's poor execution reduces a thriller novel to simply unraveling a web of friendships! Thanks for the great review!

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Post by BookishCreature » 29 Jan 2018, 18:15

Cotwani wrote:
29 Jan 2018, 16:54
Oh dear, how unfortunate that a good premise's poor execution reduces a thriller novel to simply unraveling a web of friendships! Thanks for the great review!
Thanks for commenting, Cotwani! :)

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