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Friday, June 27, 2008

Strong Unanimous Agreement: Thumbs Up for Chiefs

Just got back from our book club discussion of Chiefs by Stuart Woods. Considering how often our group has had differing views of what makes a good mystery, it was nothing short of thrilling to report- we all loved it. Chiefs, the first book by Woods (1982), is not exactly "current," but it did win an Edgar Award when it first came out. It has since been reissued.

We all felt that it had a different feel from the average mystery book. Which makes an interesting point: Is it a mystery? A thriller? A novel? Historical fiction? Epic story? All of those things. By the way, on the rating form, or grading sheet, I gave the book a 97 - the highest grade out of over 20 books rated on that form.

The book takes place in rural Georgia over a 43 year period. It is divided into three parts, each focused on a different police chief in the small town of Delano. We learn of the beginnings of a serial killer and how his work is never fully discovered until the end of the book. Yet the book is not exactly about the crime, but about relationships, attitudes about race, irony, character, and more. It was a book that was at once slow enough to explore the depths of character over time, and breathless enough (thanks to chapter endings with cliffhangers) to make me stay up until wee hours too finish it. The book got unanimous endorsement by the group probably because it had something for everyone.

I can't recommend this book highly enough! Chiefs

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