This blog post is going to be a little different than my normal book reviews. As the title says, I will be comparing and contrasting two books: So Long as You Both Shall Live by Ed McBain and Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean.
The reason I picked these two books is because both authors have been Stephen King approved and recommended. I’ve been a King fan since I was a little girl and started watching the movies based off of his books with my dad. So, anytime he recommends a book or an author I deem it worthy to check out.
Confession: these books were picked at random. I don’t have the money to just go buy all of the books that I want to read; so, when I saw that my dad had these two authors in his book collection I jumped on them. And here’s my opinion:
So Long as You Both Shall Live (an 87th Precinct novel #31)
Published December 31, 1976
“Detective Bert Kling has had some rough luck with women. First his fiancée Cindy Townsend was gunned down in an infamous bookstore shooting. Then there was Cindy Forrest, who informed him one day that she was in love with a doctor at work—and was gone. Now he’s finally hit the jackpot. Kling just married the beautiful model Augusta Blair, and they are about to enjoy the first night of their marriage together…until bad luck catches him again.
When Kling gets out of the shower, Augusta is gone, leaving behind one shoe—and cotton soaked in chloroform. Even harder than calling Detective Steve Carella with the news is standing on the sidelines while the rest of the men do all the work. But he’ll have to—or he’ll never see her alive again.”
I wanted to like this book; I really did, but it just didn’t jive with me. The plot itself was good, but I think it would have been better if it was expanded a little. I didn’t feel like there was enough for me to connect with. Usually that isn’t a problem for me. If I Stay is fairly short, and it’s one of my favorite books.
I think it has to do with the character development. I just didn’t care about any of the characters here. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read any of the other books in the 87th Precinct Series and this isn’t the first one. I really prefer to start a series with the first novel even if they all can stand alone by themselves. It just helps, in my opinion, get a better feel for the characters and the setting. I would be willing to try another book by McBain just to see if my opinion changes.
Fear is the Key
“A sunken DC-3 lying on the Caribbean floor. Its cargo: ten million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in gold ingots, emeralds and uncut diamonds guarded by the remains of two men, one woman and a very small boy.
The fortune was there for the taking, and ready to grab it were a blue-blooded oilman with his own offshore rig, a gangster so cold and independent that even the Mafia couldn’t do business with him and a psychopathic hired assassin.
Against them stood one man, and those were his people, those skeletons in their watery coffin. His name was Talbot, and he would bury his dead – but only after he had avenged their murders.”
THIS BOOK. WOW. It takes a minute to get into it, but once the first plot twist hits you can’t help but be hooked. But steel yourself when reading this novel because that’s not the only plot twist coming your way. About 3/4 of the way through you’ll be questioning the whole thing and wondering what to believe with this seemingly unreliable narrator. But it’s sealed up nicely in the end, and you won’t be disappointed.
All of the characters in this story are unique in their own way. MacLean writes them in such a way that you want to know more about their backstory and why they behave the way that they do. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that none of the characters actually got on my nerves. Your opinion of some of them will change throughout the novel literally at the turn of a page, and your heart will break for some of them. At least mine did.
Maclean is a master story weaver providing details that draw you in and a plot that will illicit a spectrum of emotions from shock to sadness to triumph.
MacLean blew me away with his surprising story telling – beating McBain in basically every way.