Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Less Canoodling, More Dogging
It is Cybil season, and while I am not cybilizing, myself, I am fondly recalling days when I was. Thus, when I stumbled upon Bloodhound: Beka Cooper, Book Two by Tamora Pierce, I jumped right on it because I liked the first book in the series, Terrier, which was nominated for a Cybil...oh, I don't know. Back the year I was a panelist for scifi/fantasy.
The Beka Cooper books have a lot of things going against them as far as I'm concerned--made up worlds and words and names and societies. (No fairies or dragons so far, thank God.) What makes them so very readable for me is that they are police procedurals. Beka and her companions are "dogs," her society's equivalent of police officers, with crimes to solve. In this world, the dogs and the rats (or criminals) are sometimes not that different. But you see that in police procedurals of all kinds.
Bloodhound wasn't as strong a book for me as Terrier for two reasons: 1. Beka is given a love interest, and 2. I noticed a lot more attention to details.
The love interest seemed like a diversion that took away from the plot. Yes, we don't know if the love interest is a good guy or a bad guy but that wasn't enough to keep me from wondering when we were going to get away from Dale touching Beka here and there so we could move back to the story.
That story also kept stopping so we could get descriptions of clothing and jewelry--how many earrings this guy wore in his right earlobe versus how many and what kind he wore in his left, what kind of brocade was on this or that tunic. Sure, detail enriches a piece of writing, but there is a tipping point after which the reader is just buried in the stuff.
We also got more talk about who was sleeping with whom than I think we needed. I didn't think it supported the story or moved it along. Okay, this is a world that is cool with sex. I got that early on. I wanted to move on to the crime!!
Now, I was also a little put off by a bit of discussion of gender issues, as in some talk on the place of women. I like a world where women crack skulls and no one talks about whether or not they should be doing it. But evidently these Beka Cooper books are part of an extended world that Pierce has created, and in this world's future things will be different for women. Pierce discusses the "Cult of the Gentle Mother" in an interview at The Torch Online.
Clearly, I found this outing with Beka a little disappointing, but not so much so that I won't be looking for Mastiff, the final book in this trilogy, which will come out sometime next year.
Bloodhound has been nominated for a Cybil this year.