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by lice Blanchard Alice Blanchard

Download Life Sentences epub
ISBN: 0751537497
ISBN13: 978-0751537499
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: lice Blanchard Alice Blanchard
Language: English
Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (2007)
Pages: 560 pages
ePUB size: 1224 kb
FB2 size: 1967 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 339
Other Formats: lit rtf txt docx

Nothing personal
I have liked this book quite well. Alice Blanchard is listed as the author of this book. She is a new author to me and I am enjoying her work. The scientific aspects of this book are very interesting with a lot of detail about rare genetic diseases. I like the characters and I like the setting that goes back and forth across the continental USA. I will be looking for more books by this author.
Great condition!!
Very suspenseful. The book had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I look forward to her next book!
Except some unbelievable scenarios. For instance: The cop breaks a few rules to remove a renowned serial killer from jail one night by forging a signature. Then, alone, escorts the serial killer deep into the woods with no backup. Hmmm. We're halfway through the book... I wonder what will happen?? The killer escapes, (a gimme), starts a fire which leads to massive forest fires and the death of a homeless man AND he then kills again. This time, it's the heroine's sister. There is no mention that the heroine is upset with him at all about this???? She's just glad to see him at the funeral. ??? After 6 months of the killer being on the loose, the cop finally catches the guy and is regarded as a real 'hero' by the other cops and retires with much dignity. Uh huh.

And why is the park full of so many mommies with their children, even slathering sunscreen on them, at 6:50 in the morning?
The main character, Daisy, is a scientist whose family background involves a brother who died young of a rare disease and a sister to whom she was exceedingly close and with whom she suffered sexual abuse. She is working to find a cure for Stier-Zellar's disease, the illness that claimed her brother too young.

When Daisy's sister, Anna, goes missing, Daisy tracks her from Vermont to Los Angeles and goes to California to try to find Anna. Initially, it appears that Anna might be the victim of a serial killer, one to whom Daisy gets too close for comfort. In California, Daisy meets Jack, an LAPD detective working on the case, and she feels drawn to him.

"Life Sentences" is a curious book, or at least it was for me. Author Alice Blanchard writes with authority about a variety of topics, including genetics and police work. I don't know how accurate some parts were, but there are definitely parts that are now outdated--such as the bad guy's package of cigarettes that he always has in his pocket, even when he's in custody. (As I understand it, California banned tobacco from state facilities, including prisons, by 2005, the year this book first came out.)

Ultimately, though, my problems with the book are big issues, not technical ones. The entire book turns when one character does something that should have every reader screaming NO to. Revealing just what would be a spoiler, but there is a clear point at which one supposedly rational character acts completely irrationally. I can give an example that is only a minor spoiler. While chasing the bad guy, one cop runs into a morgue, where he thinks the guy is hiding. Upon learning that one body has recently gone to a funeral home, the cop immediately leaves, assuming that the bad guy was posing as that body. The cop doesn't ask whether the body was male or female. He doesn't ask much of anything before making his assumption.

Finally, I found the motivation for the possible serial killer to be extremely implausible. Perhaps there are people who act the way he does for the reasons he does, but I wasn't convinced. So why three stars? The book has those serious (to me) flaws, yes, but at other times, it works pretty well. I wouldn't read it all over again, but I did finish it.
I really liked Alice Blanchard's first book, "Darkness Peering." Her second, "Breathtaker," has flaws but is engrossing and interesting all the same. "Life Sentences," however, is a disappointment. Blanchard seems to have phoned this one in. It's rather as if Victor Frankenstein had built his skeleton and then couldn't be bothered to add flesh or muscle or to flip the switch on that life-giving gizmo.

Despite a couple of twists, the plot is predictable. The overall arc of the heroine's story is obvious from the very first page. There's nothing wrong with this approach in theory: you know where the story is going, so the fun comes in seeing how it gets there. In this sort of narrative, it's not the destination that matters; it's the journey.

But this premise works only if the journey is surprising and interesting. The trajectory of "Life Sentences," unfortunately, is just the opposite. There are no real surprises, even though some of the events are more than unbelievable (just wait till you get to the whole forest scene and its aftermath -- and its prologue, come to that.) The action moves implacably and implausibly to the expected final confrontation, which, when it comes, is an anti-climax with little emotional power; we've all seen similar scenes too many times before, and there's no sense that Daisy is in any real danger. The feel-good ending is a treacly fantasy, rather like an "awww" moment in a sitcom -- and just as real.

Character development is both erratic (Jack and Daisy) and cliched (the lecherous boss, the sexual abuser [who reads like one of those featureless composite characters in bad pop-psychology articles], the serial killer who seems to have come from Psychopath Central Casting, [and whose backstory accounts for his behavior far too neatly]). The science is interesting but heavy-handed (it's not hard to understand; it's just presented in "now-it's-time-for-some-exposition" chunks.)

The basic idea is a good one: to explore important questions about genetics, destiny, and family. Based on Blanchard's skill in "Darkness Peering," I would have thought that she could have built this foundation into a complex, ambiguous, and suggestive novel. Alas, she hasn't; the book is ultimately too generic. The whole story feels mechanical and listless, with melodrama (the flood, the fire, the river) and quirkiness (Anna's silly language, the walk on the lakebed, the killer's father's job) substituting for genuine storytelling.