Monday, November 29, 2010

When the Sun Goes Down by Gwynne Forster

From a Goodreads review: "When the sun goes down on my life, you'll all come apart like ripped balloons." The wealthy Leon Farrell spoke those words to his three children before he passed, but, as always, he underestimated them. While his oldest, Edgar, does seem to be falling apart at the seams, Shirley and Gunther are doing just fine. Shunned by their father after the death of their mother while they were still children, the younger Farrell siblings worked their way through college and into successful careers. Shirley handles PR on board cruise ships and Gunther has built a computer software company that's growing by leaps and bounds. Their oldest brother, Edgar, is the only one that seems to be struggling in the wake of his father's death. It's not that he misses their father, he misses the inheritance that he's sure is coming to him. In his final thumbing of the nose at his kids, Leon died without telling anyone where his will was, including his attorney of over 20 years. Pressed for money to pay off gambling debts, Edgar hires private investigator, Carson Montgomery, to locate the missing document.

I went into this book really wanting to like it, the cover alone is just lovely, but in the end, it was not a favorite. I was at a disadvantage because this book is a sequel and I hadn't read the first one so it felt somewhat hurried as Forster summarized the history of a few key characters in paragraphs that did not do them justice. That would be my major issue with the book - it's a Ken Follett sized story in a Mitch Albom sized book. The story was so good and intriguing - a great premise for the mystery and good pairings for the romance - but the characters deserved more time in the pages for the relationships to develop naturally. To make the pieces fit within the time frame of the story (number of pages/words), Forster had to use too many fantastic coincidences for my taste. The other turn off for me was the way the male characters spoke. When the romantic lead, Carson, is asking the heroine on a date, he says, "A dressy street dress should be suitable for the evening...." and when Gunther is describing a work project, he describes it as "a dilly of a game". I work for the Navy surrounded by hundreds of men, none of them talk like this. I wondered if perhaps Gwynne is not from America, the more formal style of speech made me think of someone for whom English is a second language. Then I visited her website, including her blog, and her voice in that setting sounded much more relaxed and natural. I felt like Forster wanted to tell young Black women that there were sophisticated men out there for them but it ended up feeling like the men were preaching rather than being real. This book was full of promise but did not pan out for me.

I read this book for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

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