Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sentimental Me by Charles L. Fields

Don't let this nostalgic title Sentimental Me fool you.  This fast paced travel mystery is a true gem.

It takes Boston lawyer, Charles Stone to Agua Prieta, Mexico to see why a slain U.S. Border patrol Agent made a woman with known Drug Cartel connections the beneficiary of his $500,000 life insurance policy.  Stone was ofen called in by the Franklin Life Insurance Company to investigate what they referred to as 'exotic cases.'  He recently returned from an assignment in Ireland involving the Real IRA and a notorious international arms dealer.  Exposing fraudulent activity almost cost him his life.  needing a little R&R, he accepted the retainer and hoped the trip to Arizona and the Mexican border city would not be as dangerous, but nothing Franklin Life assigned him had ever been a 'piece of cake'.  This investigative journey, rich in descriptive side events, introduces the reader to murder, drugs, arms smuggling and the powerful people who make it all happen. -taken from the back of the book

Well that certainly makes the book sound exciting, doesn't it?!  I started off reading this book and it reminded me of the movie Funny Farm.  Anyone who's seen the movie knows the scene where the wife is reading the husband's manuscript and she bursts into tears because there are so many flashbacks and flashforwards and possibly even a flashsideways.  I'm sorry, Charles, but in the beginning I wanted to throw this book as far as I could instead of finishing it.  It's not flashes that bother me, it's all the extraneous information.  The first six chapters are really difficult to get through because there just isn't anything all that interesting going on and it feels like I'm constantly being sidetracked and forced to look at something I don't care about such as dentists and local trivia.

In chapter six things started to pick up and I finally found myself starting to enjoy the story.  It was a  little predictable in most spots and there were still a few areas where I found myself yelling out 'Get on with it!' but at least I was finally starting to enjoy it.  Around chapter 20 I was finally hooked!  This book may be a 'ride to Hell and back', but it sure took a long time to get to it!  Things really started to fall in place in the ending parts of the book.  It just felt like Charles finally got his flow going and the story was much more smooth and easy to stay interested in.  Though it was still a bit predictable, at that point I didn't care.  I was really enjoying the story by that point.

Though the book is really slow to begin, please don't let that put you off.  After I finished the book, I definitely felt it was worth the wait for the story to really get going.  In the end, it was worth slogging through the beginning.  Also, I can't say this was a ride to Hell and back, but I can say it was a good mystery and an interesting adventure.

The sequel to this book, Canyons of the Soul, seems to be much more promising.  In the next book we find Charles Stone again but this time he's up against a demonic prophet.  Bring it on!  Though I can't say I loved the first book and didn't have any issues with it, I'm really looking forward to Canyons.  I hope that Charles will bring the easy flow to it that he found near the end of Sentimental Me.

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