Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Say It Isn't So, Joe!

Oh no! Not a sequel! Please, say it isn't so!

It took me a while to get used to the writing style of Dr. Joe D. Dillsaver in These Bones Shall Rise, a mystery/adventure set in eastern Oklahoma, but I liked his hero, Doctor SK Ross, and followed the story to its non-conclusion. With all the loose ends left dangling, I thought--Well, he's a first time author; maybe he couldn't figure out how to rescue his characters from the danger he had put them in. Then the horrible thought came--A Sequel! Oh No! Another Series Writer! ...and this is a home town boy. Well, a home state fellow, anyway. That pretty much insures that I'll have to buy the next book--and the economic downturn has left us really short on cash. Sigh.

I enjoyed the book. The short, simple sentences insure grammatical correctness--near-abouts, anyway--but also give the book just the right flavor. It reads like a book written by a criminal justice professor (CJP), and it feels like a gentle excursion into a CJP's fantasy. It's formula all the way, from the bad guys holed up in the backwoods eastern Oklahoma cave cloning drones to take over the world to the desperate run for cover when the cave explodes. There's ancient Christian relics, a worldwide search for clues, the Cherokee elder, truly evil (but disconcertingly likeable) right-wing conspirators, and the amateur sleuth--all the elements of an adventure story aka movie set-up.

What makes the book work is Dr. Dillsaver himself as he draws his hero, SK, in his own image. As I read, it's like reading something one of my former students might have written--very personal, very intimate, very confessional. As the story spins out to its non-conclusion, I find myself enjoying the evening visit with the author. In this case, the story is nothing, and the characters exist just to provide words for the author, and the author is a pleasant companion for the cool Oklahoma evenings we are beginning to enjoy.

And, yes, I will purchase the sequel.

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