Grounds to Kill by Wendy Roberts

January 14, 2013
How many adjectives does a story need before they become just filler?

Sometimes beginnings are murder. Fellow readers, has this ever happened to you? You close a book with a sigh, abundant thoughts rapidly forming in your brain, many times they speed by so fast you just can't write them down. And then there are times when you stare at a that closed book and all that goes through the little noggin is "well, that was ok." Sorry to say, that was the case with Grounds to Kill. Of course, for me to say this book was just "ok" isn't right. I must find the words to explain that harsh term. 

This is the first book by Wendy Roberts that I have ever read, so I was entering uncharted territory. And I loved the premise of plot. Even more than the plot, the book was full of some very quirky characters that I found extremely entertaining, especially the heroine, Jen. Jen had the so-called gift of automatic writing. I also found a secondary character, Mallory, and all of her save-everything-on-earth routine amusing. Every character in this book had the promise of fun. They were all there waiting for some over-the-top adventures and I think that with personalities that are so unusual you need to exaggerate what makes them unorthodox. There was a great scene in this book when Jen had to explain to a policeman what she was doing at the scene of the crime. It was a big laugh out loud moment... so much so that I had tears form and after I moved on to the next scene I continued to chuckle for awhile. If everything in this book had been like that scene, this would have been a dynamic read. So, what happened?

Sex-in-the-City. There were times while reading Grounds to Kill that I was reminded of Sex in the City. I confess, I never saw the magic of that show and all the shallow people that inhabited it. However, if the writing is right, I can overlook that popular style of silliness. Often I wasn't sure whether Grounds to Kill was an adult book or a young adult book. But that was a minor hiccup. When I read a book I like to be drawn into the atmosphere of the story. I love it when the outside world fades into the background and all I see are the words on the page. And that's the main problem I had here. Words, or should I say, adjectives.

I understand that flavor is added to a story with the use of adjectives. But not every noun in a tale needs to be modified - once - twice - three times. And at the beginning of this story I found the "blue-jean-clad-thigh" or "estrogen enriched customer" to be overkill. Nothing was ever just plain blue. When there are a plethora of adjectives in a book they just become filler. Instead of all the extraneous descriptors, developing the quirky characters into more complex beings would have taken this novel from "ok" to extraordinary. 

I did see some possibilities in Wendy Roberts writing and I enjoyed the laugh out loud moment.  I am curious enough to give her another try.

Time/Place: Current time, Seattle
Sensuality: Warm


nath said...

All right, I wouldn't have associated Grounds to Kill with Sex in the City ^_^; Need to readjust my expectations... But aside from that, I gotta ask you, was there suspense or mystery in the book? And if so, was it good?

SidneyKay said...

nath: an interesting question. There was a murder, in fact I believe a couple of murders. And, she was always in the wrong place/wrong time...but I wouldn't necessarily call this book suspenseful. Just think about Carrie (Sex and...) being involved/suspected/mixed up in a murder and her goofy friends help her out. And, her automatic hand sends her clues that no one would ever be able to interpret. This is not a nail biting story.

nath said...

Huh, yeah... so it kind of has no genre? ^_^;