I’m really mad at Terry Cronin.
He never follows my advice.
I keep telling him to write longer books and he holds to his whole ‘vision’ thing. I get that I’m not his editor or anything, but still…I’m a fan. That should count for something, right? I should be able to dictate how he writes. That’s how fandom works.
So what has me in a snit? His latest book, The Tattooed Lady. I read it back in July at SDCC (yes, while we were still at ComicCon) and I really liked it. I reread it last week on vacation and I liked it even better. Too much, really. I ran out of book long before I ran out of interest.
Seriously, is it too much to ask that you not leave me hanging?
I’ve liked all of Terry’s books. The Skinvestigator series is exactly what quick-hit whodunits should be. Crimes. Clues. Captures. He writes them so you can blow through them in a couple of hours. Long enough for you to fly from, say, Kansas City to San Diego, where you see Terry at his booth and pick up the next installment. Neat and tidy no muss, no fuss mysteries. All that’s missing is the bow.
Which brings us to The Tattooed Lady (who’s not named Lydia, by the way).
The central character is Erzuile Murphy, a secondary (third really) character from the aforementioned Skinvestigator series. In that series of books, she’s a consultant to the consultant, a highly respected tattoo artist who ends up dating one of the series’ main characters, Det. Frank Martin.
Erzulie, it turns out, is much more than Frank Martin’s sort of girlfriend. She’s a Haitian orphan, a voodoo practitioner, a gifted artist, and a well-regarded tattoo artist. Oh, and maybe a spy, which is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll let it slide.
Things start off with a knock on the door and we’re off! We’re in Haiti! We’re in Miami! We’re in Georgia! Back to Haiti! Dead guy! Dead friend! Dead mom! Dead...wait, who’s that Michael guy? Much like Terry’s earlier books, the story bounces from present to backstory chapter by chapter. Unlike those efforts, he uses the past much more effectively this time and ends up giving us a more fully realized, yet not quite complete (longer books, Terry!) Erzulie. While the story could have ended up being a creepy voodoo tale with priests and priestesses dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, it isn’t. The plot is mysterious, not far-fetched. The backstory is interesting, not contrived. It’s a nice little character piece that just happens to have a little magic and murder. All in all, Cronin does a great job creating a person out of a plot contrivance.
I’ve read all of Terry’s book, and this is his best book by far. I asked him about it the last time I saw him and he said this was a story he had to tell. I’m glad he did. I just wish he told us more. It really should have been a longer book.
It’d be nice if Cronin would listen to me.
Until he does, I’ll just stay mad.