Book Review – The Long (LONG!) Walk Home
I downloaded this book (yes, downloaded – I am all about my Kindle – a post for a different day . . .) after reading the first two Kay Scarpetta novels The Scarpetta Collection, Vol. 1: Postmortem / Body of Evidence, which were bundled together, practically with a bow. These pre-CSI novels featuring Virigina medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, if read separately, are probably ok, passable crime fiction. But, when read back to back, Kay is just so incredibily stupid that they are hard to stomach. How on earth does she let the killer get into her house TWICE! You would think after the first book she would have learned her lesson. I’ve been working in criminal law for nearly 12 years, and never once has the Medical Examiner ever a. been in the paper for any other reason than as a side note in a homicide case, i.e. “the medical examiner testified that the cause of death was homicide,” b. been identified as an investigator on the case as opposed to the Homicide Detective, c. ever been tracked down by a homicidal maniac, or become the target of any homicidal maniacs rage. My clients know exactly who arrested them (the homicide detective) and who is prosecuting them (the da), however, the medical examiner or even the crime lab technician is never ever on their radar as an “enemy.” The plots of these books, if given more than a passing thought, make absolutely no sense.
Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be reviewing The Long Walk Home — anyway my point in bringing up the Scarpetta novels was not to illustrate just how insipid highly-educated and respected Kay actually is, and how, as time after time she puts herself in jeopardy only to be saved by the Sipowizc-like male detective, she is really an anti-feminist creation reminscent of fainting, hyperventilating heroines of fairy tales, but to explain why I went all the way to the other end of the spectrum – a stylized romance novel, because make no mistake, The Long Walk Home is nothing more than a Harlequinn novel in a fancy party dress. I just wanted to read something nice — no blood spatter, no crazed maniac, no infuriating woman character who is infuriating simply for the reason that she’s supposed to be a strong role model for women in a field dominated by men, yet she lets the men dominate her over and over again – oh, yeah, the Long Walk Home – – –
Anyway, The Long Walk Home – I wanted sweet, I got saccharine overload. This book is Bridges of Madison County on uppers – basically, the same story, rewritten with heavy handed protestations of undying love and of course, a happy ending. Yucko. I should have just reread Bridges of Madison County.
The Long Walk Home tells the story of Alec, who travels to North Wales to scatter his ex-wife’s ashes along the Welsh countryside. Yes, not wife, ex-wife – an ex-wife who on one hand is portrayed as the ultimate asshole, but on the other hand, of course, completely irresistible. I suppose she has to be an asshole for us to believe that the woman he meets on his journey, Fiona — the proprietor of a Welsh bed and breakfast that she runs while her sickly, peticide poisoned husband David manages the family sheep farm with the aid of a local boy who of course is in love with the farmer’s daughter, who brings home her citified asshole boyfriend — is his true soulmate after he’s just travelled thousands of miles, mostly on foot, to dispose of the ashes of another woman. That may have been a run-on sentence – but this is a run-on novel – on and on it goes – Fi and Alex drink lots of wine, and eat yummy meals, and fall in love – and, even though the setting is Wales, you can hear strains of The Heather on the Hill in the background, and a leprachaun popping out of the woodwork wouldn’t be surprising at all, this book is so laden with stereotypes and cliches. Alec writes love poetry to Fi, and he spends quiet moments pondering what the British would possibly do if there were no tea. Alec, like the author of the novel, is a former Washington speech writer, yet he takes to farming like a natural, birthing breeched sheep and cleaning out dung in the barn. And, if he was not already beatified when the book began, he certainly is when he stumbles across David, his rival, Fi’s husband, dying of hypothermia on the edge of a cliff, seconds from death. Of course, Alec summons help, saves his lover’s husband, and then takes off, leaving her to care for this completely disabled, brain damaged guy who beat the crap out of her right before he tried to kill himself on the moutain, for her own good – it was the right thing to do. Yeah, whatever.
If you want to read a romance novel, like I did, don’t read something that’s pretending to be something else – because to become something else – “literary” fiction in this case, I suppose – the writer will employ all kinds of heavy handed techniques in order to mask what it really is – a sappy, poorly written, trashy novel.