Gone by Randy Wayne White introduces a new protagonist, Hannah Smith. While the plot is mildly interesting, but not overly exciting, and a quick read, the poor characterization is the book’s ultimate undoing.
It’s not the the characters are caricatures, but they are sort of franken-caricatures. Parts of different cut-out characters stitched together in a way that make no sense. Since most of the unraveling of the mystery here involves long conversations, sometimes oddly recounted after the fact, I spent most of the time frustrated with the stupid or bizarre actions of the characters.
The main character, Hannah Smith, is a pretty girl, who doesn’t think she is, but sort of knows she is, who doesn’t look pretty, except she does, in a certain light, or after a couple of drinks, in a mannish but totally feminine way. I was confused too. Her best friend is a muscle bound gay dude who is terribly shy, but can have a temper, except he just wants to be friends and is willing to play the muscle, but kind of wants to run away from any social situations.
None of the characters in the end did I really care about. And the ones that Hannah felt sympathy for, I’d have rather she just slapped. They were too irritating to inspire real sympathy.
The solution to the “mystery” is pretty much a foregone conclusion almost from the moment it’s presented, with only how the final confrontation would play out really at issue. I may have found that confrontation a little more interesting if I’d cared more about the characters.
I haven’t read White’s Doc Ford books, and maybe he has a better handle on those characters. There’s enough writing skill here for me to check them out. There are too many other better books similar to this one to recommend Gone, though. I received an advance copy of this book.