Sunday, August 31, 2008

Someone To Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught *****

I judge a book not by its cover but by its ability to move me. I want to feel what the characters are feeling - the joy and delight, the humor and witticisms, the pain, the fear, the anguish. The more involved I get in the story, the higher my rating.

I think I am a little capricious in the ratings. Sometimes a 5 star rating is a keeper/re-read, and sometimes I loved it 5 stars worth but not keeper-worth. Sometimes I give a 3 star rating to a book I didn't really like that much but felt deserved it, maybe because it was well-written or....

I digress. I consider Someone To Watch Over Me a 5 star book that I don't plan to keep or re-read - maybe because it's a suspense and now I know. Maybe because I felt what the characters felt, but it didn't always feel good. I'm not sure. I felt it was well-written, and the characters fully fleshed out and credible - but, like a good suspense, it pushed my limits of what feels good - so maybe that's my answer.

I read the AAR Review and agreed with many of her conclusions. For one thing - identifying the hero is almost a spoiler and removes some of the suspense. And there's a secondary romance - or is it secondary at all? It is treated more like the main romance at times.

The plot revolves around the disappearance of Logan Manning, successful businessman, husband to the main female protagonist Leigh Kendall. Leigh is a famous Broadway actress who wakes up in the hospital at the opening of the book, confused and battered. She left after the Sunday matinee to join her husband at their dream cottage in the Catskills, but got lost in a blinding snowstorm and was knocked off the road by another car. Rescued by an unknown Good Samaritan, now she learns her husband is missing and feared dead.

The press has a field day with the fate of the famous couple, printing half truths and innuendos. Was the marriage on the rocks? Was Logan having affairs with anyone in skirts? And how was the notorious Michael Valenti, wealthy businessman with a reputation for dirty dealing, involved?

And who can Leigh trust?

Samantha Littleton (ok, I kept putting Samantha from Foyle's War in my mind...) is a rookie detective on the task force - she's actually earned her place with her ability, but she has connections - money and politics - that factor in as well. She's not convinced, as the rest of the force seems to be, that Leigh is in any way involved in Logan's disappearance. Many of the clues - like why Leigh's car was driving away from the cabin when it fell over the embankment - are just wrong assumptions. Why didn't they ask Leigh so they'd know she thought she had missed the turnoff and turned around? The task force is specifically assigned to get the goods on Valenti, who has successfully avoided prosecution all these years - and a key piece of evidence seems to be the starting point for bringing Valenti down.

The clues are revealed slowly and I found some of it painful to read, because as the reader you knew the truth behind some of them - the police seemed to jump to conclusions too often.

The revelation of the culprit was a surprise to me, and throughout I did find myself suspecting many of the characters of being capable - and in a way, some of them were just as bad as the person who pulled the trigger. As Leigh learned more about her husband, the betrayals of friends and colleagues were almost as unbearable for me as they were for her!

It's always about the journey for me, and I felt McNaught created the atmosphere she intended - I felt the suspense, I even stayed up way too late because I had to know the ending. 5 stars.

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