Saturday Hubby and I went to a reading by Jaden Terrell from her newly released book RACING THE DEVIL. This was especially exciting for me because I’m now a member of the same critique group as Jaden, Quill and Dagger, but joined long after this book had gone to press. I had the book (of course) but had not read it…then.
The reading was at Parnassus Books, Nashville’s newest bookstore, opened late last year by best-selling author Ann Patchett and publishing guru Karen Hayes. In Greek mythology, Mount Parnassus was the home of literature, learning and music and the intent of this independent bookstore is to support local writers and artists and provide a venue for writers to connect with readers and readers to connect with books. This complements and adds to the rich cultural environment of Nashville, also known as the Athens of the South. But I digress…
The space for the reading was packed. All of the chairs were filled and people stood as far as I could see behind the stacks. (Of course I was sitting in a nice comfy chair.) Jaden began right on time (gotta love that!) and talked about the book and her process. She was articulate, funny, and smooth in her presentation. The passages she chose to read made me want to read the book–immediately–and I started it as I sat in the car while Hubby ran into the grocery for a few items. I finished it the next day.
It was a page-turner with a great story and a plausible plot. The characters were believable and because it was set in Nashville, I didn’t have to imagine what the settings were–I knew. It was a great read I’d recommend for any lover of mysteries–or any lover of a good story, for that matter.
But for me, as a writer, the book was much more than “a story.” From the page one, it was obvious how well written the book was. There was a hook. The first page drew me in. Backstory was done in small, succinct segments and carefully layered in. Character descriptions were brief and vivid. Her similes and metaphors weren’t overdone, but when she used them they were brilliant.
One of my favorite passages was, “Old habits die hard. Look at the metric system.”
The subplots were weaved into the plot in such a way I could hardly tell which was which. She touched on some socially sensitive issues and dealt with them in a respectful and responsible way. I could go on and on, but I won’t.
Will the author be offended I could spot these elements to recognize them as the great examples they are? I hope not. I’ve trained myself to search every book I read, and I usually locate this in one and that in another. Although I’ve tried, I’ve not found one single book possessing most, if not all, of the characteristics of a good novel…until now. This one won’t go on the shelf with my mysteries, but will be next to my writing reference books.
In conclusion, the book was a delightful read. However, the real value for me were its lessons on content and structure. Thank you, Jaden. Thank you.
RACING THE DEVIL is available at Amazon or your local bookstore.
Jaden Terrell’s second book, A Cup Full of Midnight is available for preorder and will be released in August.