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Mouth to Mouth - Michael Kimball

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Author: Michael Kimball / Genre: Fiction

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      23.01.2007 15:19
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      Entertaining read

      Ellen Chambers ought to be a happy woman. She has a wonderful daughter, Moreen, who has just got married, a husband, Scott, and a good job. Yet her marriage is not all it seems to be and she is concerned for her daughter’s welfare in the hands of her new son-in-law. Initially, the reappearance of Neal, her husband’s nephew, seems like a blessing in disguise. Neal helps out around the farm, generally cheers up the household and vows to sort out Moreen’s husband. Ellen slowly finds herself falling for him.

      Then Ellen remembers that Neal’s father hung himself because Scott and Neal’s mother had a brief affair. Could it be that Scott, out of touch with the rest of the family for years, has come to wreck his revenge? When Moreen’s husband dies while helping the Chambers family make a repair to their dam, Ellen is sure that it was done to Neal. However, Ellen and Scott are also under suspicion. Even worse, this marks the falling apart of the Chambers family, yet no-one apart from Ellen, seems to believe what she is saying. Can she convince the police that Neal is out for revenge before it is too late?

      I picked up this book by pure mistake. I thought I had chosen a Jonathan Kellerman, but this must have been next to it on the shelf. Otherwise, having never heard of the author, I doubt I would have picked it up at all. Initially, I regretted my mistake. The blurb on the back of the book sounded cheesy and I expected to end up reading a thriller/romance of the sloppiest American kind. However, what I found was a book that kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, even sitting next to screaming children and people bellowing down their mobile phones (why, why??) on the bus.

      In this type of book, it is usually important to me to care for the characters. In this case, I actually found it quite difficult; luckily the story was so good that it didn’t matter. Ellen Chambers is one of those super-women that can try their hand at everything, but despite that, she is not particularly likeable. She had a part in her brother-in-law’s death, but seems reluctant to accept this, laying the blame on others. However, I think this was quite a clever thing to do on the author’s behalf; I was never quite sure whether Ellen was going to be more involved in the crimes that occur than it initially seemed.

      Ellen’s husband, Scott, came across as being a bit of a layabout, who was forced to kick himself into action for the sake of Ellen and Moreen. Compared to his efficient wife, he comes off even worse. He is more realistic than Ellen though. He knows that he is not perfect and seems happy with this. Moreen is a typical teenager who can’t be told anything. I had a strong urge to slap her on many occasions, which I guess means that she was well described!

      Neal is the most complicated character of all. He is clearly meant to be the evil one, yet there were times when I felt desperately sorry for him and others when I applauded what he was doing. He is the character around which the story revolves and the author has done an excellent job of making him neither wholly evil nor wholly bad to keep the reader’s questions flowing throughout the book. My only issue with Neal is that he is just that bit too good at everything he does. He seems to be able to read people’s thoughts and manipulate them in a way that I just don’t think is possible.

      Kimball builds up an atmosphere of evil very slowly, but effectively. It seems clear that Neal is involved from the beginning, but the story is not quite as straightforward as it first seems, to the extent that as I read on, I could never quite work out what was going to happen next.

      Apart from Neal’s superman abilities, my only other criticism of this book is that it does tend to drag on for too long. Just as we think it is all over, it all begins again and again. The book could easily have been a hundred pages shorter than it was – some of the story towards the end just wasn’t necessary and actually lessened my overall enjoyment of the book.

      I enjoyed this book very much, despite my initial expectations. It was very readable and difficult to put down at times. Anyone who enjoys thrillers a la Stephen King or Dean Koontz will probably enjoy this – there is little that is supernatural about it, but the suspense and style of writing is, I think, quite similar.

      The book is available from Amazon from 50p in the new and used section. Published by Feature, it has 384 pages. ISBN: 0747273278

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  • Product Details

    When she falls for the charms of a distant relation at a wedding, a lonely woman sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance to escape from her miserable marriage and start afresh, but when her lover suggests murder is the answer to their problems, she finds herself drawn into a maze of deception, intrigue and madness. From the author of UNDONE.