Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: Last Exit in New Jersey by C.E. Grundler

Last Exit In New JerseyLast Exit in New Jersey by C.E. Grundler
Publisher: Amazon Kindle Editions
Publish Date: November 14, 2007
289 pages
Contemporary Romance

My Review:
Why I read this: I received an email from the author, thought the premise was interesting and accepted it for review.

How is the novel driven: This is really tough to say - the plot is the driving factor, but truthfully the characters are essential and how they act and change is just as important in the plot.  Ms. Grundler has weaved an amazing book marrying the both the plot and the characters.

My thoughts: While Last Exit in New Jersey might be considered noir, if you don't read noir-type books, don't let that discourage you.  While dark with flawed characters, I would consider this the type of book that noir lovers and non-lovers alike would love.  If you love gripping suspense and flawed characters then this is the book for you.

Mixing up a bunch of characters, throwing them all together and then putting a suspense plot on top is what Ms. Grundler does.  But it's not that simple and it's not a jumble. Please read her post on Creating Suspense and it will give you a better feel for the novel and how she goes about creating suspense.  In the book everything seems to be happening off the page, while you are reading about the characters and how they are dealing with this situation that it seems like none of the parties involved understand.  I loved how Ms. Grundler weaved the lives of the characters together and how it just all seems to fit.

I liked Hazel and Micah.  I liked learning about Hazel little by little.  She reminds me somewhat of Lisbeth in the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larrson without as much baggage.  She's tough like Lisbeth, there's some baggage but not as much, but she's shy and she's vulnerable but she will do all she can to protect those close to her.

It's interesting to try and figure out who the true bad guys are and trying to figure out what will happen next.  The book flowed well and I couldn't wait to turn the next page to see what would happen next and how it would all turn out.  The suspense is wonderfully done and this book has to be one of my favorites of the year because of the great suspense and the different feel to the book as a whole.  You honestly don't feel like you are reading a typical book when you read Last Exit in New Jersey.  It's fresh, it's suspenseful and has great characters. 

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:

Nice young ladies from the Garden State really shouldn’t be dumping bodies at sea. Then again, 20 year-old Hazel Moran is anything but your typical Jersey girl. Raised aboard a schooner and riding shotgun beside her father in their old tractor-trailer truck, there's little on the road or water that she can't handle; it's her people skills that need work. Normally that isn’t an issue – behind the wheel of a Kenworth most people tend to leave her alone. But when Hazel and her father become the targets of some unsavory characters hunting for her blue-haired cousin, their stolen tractor-trailer truck and a delivery that never arrived, she knows it's time to heed a lesson learned from her favorite hardboiled paperbacks: playing nice will only end in tears.

For ten sweltering days Hazel navigates the Garden State's highways and shorelines, contending with a suspiciously wealthy stranger, white trash, Born Agains, appliance salesmen, an unstable stalker and his curiously troublesome companion. It'll take all her ingenuity, not to mention some fishing tackle and high voltage, if Hazel hopes to protect her family and unravel this tangle of greed and betrayal. And anyone who gets too close, no matter their intent, will discover just how dangerous shy little Hazel truly can be as she sets in motion a twisted plan to uncover the truth, settle some scores, and if possible not wind up dead in the process.

Somewhat hard-boiled, slightly noir, Last Exit in New Jersey is an offbeat tale that travels from a Delaware Bay ghost-town to metropolitan north Jersey, where boats and big rigs set the scene for danger, suspense, dark humor and an unlikely bit of romance.

About the Author (from author's website):
I've spent far too much time around boats and trucks, sailing, working on engines and generally not behaving according to expectations. I live in northeast New Jersey with my husband, three dogs and assorted cats. Growing up aboard boats, I've sailed the region's waters single-handed since childhood, and done a little of everything from boat restorations and repairs to managing a boatyard and working in commercial marine transportation. My work has been published in Boating on the Hudson, Offshore Magazine and DIY Boat Owner Magazine. I divide my time between working on Annabel Lee, my 32' trawler, and writing. My first novel, Last Exit In New Jersey, is now available, and I'm currently moving ahead with the second in the series, No Wake Zone.


FTC Information: I received this book from the author for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.