Soon She Will Be Gone by John Farris has received a 5 Star rating at Amazon. I do not understand how that could have happened. To my way of thinking, a 3 Star rating would have been more than sufficient -- kind even. But 5??? No way.
The plot is a murder mystery, and it's set among the very wealthy. Six women have vanished over a period of time. All of them had some form of disability, but they were all very talented women in spite of whatever drawbacks their individual disability might present. All were last seen in the company of the same man; the locations varied. Enter Sharan Norbeth who is coerced into becoming the lure to capture the suspected murderer.
The story is a mess, switching from one character to another without much rhyme or reason. A relationship develops out of nowhere with no explanation for how such an intimate turn came about. Other readers at Amazon talked about the twists and turns and how they could not put this book down. For me, there were no surprises, and the only reason I didn't put it down and forget about it completely was because I paid for it, and because I'm anal about finishing books I start.
Farris can certainly write well when he wants, and he can surely turn a phrase. But at no time in the 387 page duration of this book did he give me one good reason to care about any of the characters. Further, once all the characters had been introduced, I quickly figured whodunnit.
Blanche On The Lam by Barbara Neely is a completely different story. This book won the Agatha, the Macavity, and the Anthony -- three of the four major mystery awards for best first novel.
The perspective of this mystery is different from most books I'm accustomed to reading. Blanche White is African-American who works for wealthy white people. There are not very many "nice" white people in Blache's world, but then having read a lot of Agatha Christie's mysteries, she didn't have a whole lot of nice white folks either. And that would include Miss Marple who would have got on my nerves after about 5 minutes. Blanche, on the other hand, would be an interesting person to know. She's smart, a good ('scuse me -- fabulous) cook, and even though she does her best to avoid Darkies Disease, she's got a big heart.
Blanche solves the mystery in this book using her common sense and her network of women friends and family. I look forward to reading more of her adventures in subsequent books.