Monday, 11 November 2013

" Cloudland " by Joseph Olshan





I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

The discovery of a body thawing out in the melting snow of Vermont is the opening scene of this novel from Joseph Olshan.  Ex Journalist, Catherine Winslow, is the person who makes the grim discovery and this is her story.  Along with stunning descriptions of the Vermont countryside, the author tells of Catherine's lost love, change of career and introduces her eclectic neighbours.

"That day, on the surrounding hillsides, the trees were mostly budded, but the leaves were still that light electric green that set the darker. coniferous trees in relief.  My lilacs were just barely blooming, the apple trees decked out in luxurious boas of white and pink flowers, beset by loops of honeybees, the air graced with the sweet smell of pollen.  Depending on my mood, the land either seems to breathe and expand or close in around me.  The good thing about living in a rural place is that the cycles of nature, ever-changing, help give a broader perspective, particularly when you're down in the dumps."


The novel boasts high caliber writing, with a never ending supply of beautiful prose.  However, this book is marketed as a thriller and I was just not thrilled.  The serial killer is almost treated as an inconvenience rather than a person to be feared and Catherine's journalistic experience seems to be of no benefit to her.  She is included in the investigation from the start and she is given information which would never be shared with the general public.  When more bodies are discovered, she is informed, despite the fact that she should have no access to this case. She is not an investigative journalist anymore.

The chapters which deal with her daughter and her ex lover are smooth and interesting.  I would have preferred a novel based on her life, not on one that tries to include a complex string of murders to which she has a tenuous link. 
The books ends with a rushed, jumble of facts which are disappointing, unbelievable and cancel out some of the amazing writing that the author is capable of.

I would read more of the authors work, as he has a beautiful writing style, but I would hope he concentrates on the character driven style, rather than the thrillers.



"Cloudland" is published by Arcadia Books and is available in Paperback and E-Book format.



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