Friday, July 2, 2010

Book 37 - The Broken Hearts Club

No matter how much water I drink, I can't seem to get rid of the taint - and I can't decide if its repulsion or awe.

I wasn't prepared for the graphic content of The Broken Hearts Club - neither the description of each brutal murder or every sexual encounter. It's not that I don't read those kinds of books, I'm just trying to figure out if it's a little over-the-top in this case.

Like when I watched Hostel in the theatre, almost crawling under the seat at the absolute gratutious sex and violence - and yet, still feeling something about the movie. Even weeks later.

The Broken Hearts Club is going to stick with me for a long time.

But I'm having a hard time understanding why. The premise is borderline brilliant - a small group of men who meet in the back of a dingy New York bar to share their broken-heart stories. Their rejection soon turns to hate, and hate morphs into rage, which of course leads to a string of murders. Brutal murders.

Enter Detective Voort, a rich, good-looking cop assigned to homicide. (What does good-looking and rich have to do with anything, you ask? I have NO idea, but the author must have deemed it relevant because it's talked about a lot throughout the novel. A lot.) Voort falls victim to his own broken heart (surprise), while his ex-girlfriend becomes the target of the very serial killer he's hunting. (Ok, so that last part is slightly cliche, but the first half of the book is quite clever...)

There's just something...weird...about the execution of the plot. I pride myself in writing deep third person point-of-view, hopefully allowing the reader to live the story rather than hover above it. My mentor, Steve Berry, would call that tight psychic distance, and its a trait I typically find in my favourite books. I enjoy the escape of living another person's life - even for 300 pages or so.

The Broken Hearts Club does not have tight psychic distance. It's written in third-person, present tense - sort of. It's a bit inconsistent in places, which I'm not sure was intentional, and is somewhat distracting.

And yet, I turned the page.

I turned the page after figuring out the mystery in the first third of the book. I turned the page when my suspicions were proven correct at the half-way point. I even turned the page when I knew exactly how the book was going to end long before I could no longer turn the page.


Honestly, I have no idea. I'm desperate for my BF to read this just so I can talk about it with her. Ethan Black breaks so many craft rules, his writing sometimes comes across as sloppy. And yet, there are paragraphs or snippets with such awe-inspiring detail I can see the scene with absolute clarity. I almost never like floating above the story, but I do with this novel. I think. And while Voort is not as well developed as I'd like to see (since he is a series character), I'm left with a strange aftertaste, not entirely unpleasant.

For some reason I want more. More Voort. More Black. Even more of The Broken Hearts Club.


  1. Hmmmm....

    Sounds like he needed a great critique partner. Kinda like you. :)

  2. Whoa! I mean YOU are a great critique partner! See what happens when I don't get you to check my work first?

  3. Maybe the pages were laced with some mysterious addictive substance that kept you coming back for more.

  4. Donna - I knew what you meant :-) (Which is par for the course...) <3

    RT - Perhaps...but I didn't feel in "additional" side effects... :-)