Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Bed of Scorpions by Judith Flanders

First Sentence:  The summer was rumbling on the way summer usually does in publishing, and I was ready to murder someone.
Book editor Samantha (Sam) Clair learns that the partner of her friend and ex-boyfriend, art dealer Art Merriam, has just been found dead in his office with a gun in his hand.  Leading the investigation is Sam's new boyfriend, Insp. Jake Field.   After other deaths, Sam's knowledge of publishing leads to her become a target.  Can they find the killer before the killer finds Sam?
If one has ever wondered about the "glamorous" world of publishing, Flanders will burst that bubble almost immediately.  At least she does so with humor—"And so, come summer, when Frankfurt still feels far enough away that we don't have to harass our poor authors, slaving away in their salt mines (yes, I know I said they were cows a minute ago, but bear with me, I'm an editor, not a writer)… ," and her often-wry humor, in spite of dangling participles, is delightful—"Dating a detective, I discovered, could be a royal pain.  All the stuff that most people remain serenely unaware of, he picked up on right away."   Yes, better editing would have been helpful. 
Flanders also presents a very interesting look at the different perspectives on cash flow between the world of publishing and art. In addition to learning about the publishing industry, it is quite interesting learning how galleries work. 
Flanders' characters are nicely done and quite relatable.  Between Sam, Jake, Sam's indomitable lawyer-mother, her assistant Miranda, and her upstairs neighbor Mr. Rudiger, she has created a cast that is interesting and real; people one would like to know.  One of the best things about San is her normalcy.  The scene of her being in danger is very well done and the way in which she reacts is the way in which most of us would have.
Some authors' plots are constructed of threads.  Flanders writes in a Venn diagram of overlapping circles with the answer and the killer are found in the overlap. Along the way, there are some very good red herrings and a climax which is nicely done.  If one were to have a criticism it is that there is too much tell, and not enough show; i.e., too much exposition.
"A Bed of Scorpions" is a light read, and an enjoyable one. It's truly the author's voice which really keeps one reading.  Whilst the mystery may not be as strong as the writing, one may be assured that later books are much improved. 

A BED OF SCORPIONS  (Pol Proc/Ama Sleu-Sam Clair/Jake Wright-London-Cont) - Good
      Flanders, Judith – 2nd in series
      Minotaur Books – Mar 2016

1 comment:

  1. I do like the idea of a look into the world of publishing! It sounds like an interesting approach to telling a story, too. I'm glad you enjoyed this.