Emma Elliot - A Thin, Dark Line

A Thin, Dark Line - Emma Elliot

Recently I have become pen-pals with a man in prison in Oregon, USA. When I told my friends about it, all of them (except for my sister who is a fearless woman) told me I was absolutely crazy to be doing this, because surely he will come after me once he gets out and he will kill me (for no particular reason other than the fact he knows my address). I was quite amazed by the fact that I was being called the crazy one and not those convinced that there was a big likelihood of me dying at the hands of an imprisoned man (who is not even doing time for very serious crimes, compared to the other inmates anyway), a man who is not going to be out until 2015 and after that won’t be allowed to leave the county, let alone travel across the globe to randomly murder me.


Honestly, if we were to worry about me, we should worry that I somehow convince myself I’m in love with the guy (he’s got great abs, reads books,  writes me very long letters and promises he’s been clean for the past 8 years) and decide to upend my life and move to Oregon to marry an ex-convict.


So when Jill chose this book for me (as a part of our ongoing book-dare project), I thought ‘touché!’ Essentially it is a story of a clumsy librarian who falls in love with a guy who has just got out of prison. Although I’d prefer to believe I’m nowhere near this weak, clumsy and clueless as the main character. Seriously, a note to romance writers – I know that the whole ‘she tripped and fell into his arms’ sort of thing sounds like such an exciting and romantic device, but please, you’re only allowed to use once per book, so choose wisely. Any more than that makes your heroine look like someone with serious neurological problems, or a psycho who is actually doing this shit on purpose.


Another thing – please keep the mundane to a minimum. I can’t keep reading a scene after scene of some random domestic bliss, people eating breakfast, children laughing, people eating cupcakes, people hugging, people eating dinners, people smiling at each other, all those people who are superfluous and unnecessary and what they do has nothing to do with the story line. There was way too much of that in this book and it served absolutely no purpose other than filling out the pages until we were ready for the climax. I feel this is one of the biggest problems of indie books – plotting and pacing. Of course, terrible writing is a problem as well (luckily not in this book) but while there is not much that can be done about terrible writing, a good editor should be able to help with the plotting and pacing (which is why we still need traditional publishers).


I also had a problem with how trusting the heroine was. I’m all about giving people the benefit of doubt, I’m a firm believer in second chances but if I was getting all cozy with a guy who did 15 years for murder and there were people dropping dead all around me from the moment he returned to town, I think I would be a tiny bit concerned. I think it would be perfectly healthy and reasonable to be concerned. But then we are talking about a woman who trips over her own feet at least twice a day. Also, she seemed to want to ‘get to the bottom’ of the mysterious story, yet whenever anyone who seemed to know more than her offered some information she literally did not want to hear it and asked them to leave. It was frustrating.


I was prepared to give this book two stars but then it suddenly picked itself up and the last 20% were quite entertaining. I think the author should look at that last part of the book and analyse it and make sure her next one is entirely like that.


I was also disappointed with the lack of sex – for God’s sake, the guy had been in prison for all of his adult life, throw him a bone, girlfriend! I hope we see more action in the next book which should be about Eloise’s sister whom we met as a jaded plastic surgeon, keen on one night stands, stealing motorcycles and riding them half naked in the middle of the night. A girl after my own heart.