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Imbroglio by Alana Woods


by Alana Woods

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621,268,033 (4.5)None



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This book is intelligently written; I enjoyed the author's unique style, and I appreciate that she did not dumb down her prose. Alana Woods has the kind of unique voice that you will always know when you are reading that it is one of her books, even if you were to pick up a book without a cover or her name on it. That is what will make her stand out from others in the genre and what will keep her fans coming back for her books specifically.

The real star of the show, however, is the characters that drive this story. I'm usually good at solving a mystery early on, but Alana keep me guessing until the end. I also felt the style allowed me to be fully absorbed in David's POV, and the brusque dialogue scenes kept this story moving at a quick pace. I was surprised how much I loved this, since it's not one of my favorite genres (though one I do enjoy from time to time). Fans of the genre should eat this up.

Overall, if you are looking for a story packed with style and mystery, this is one you need to try. ( )
  InkMuse | Apr 11, 2014 |
The Life You Save May Be Your Own

If the title of my review seems far less original than that of the novel it explores, that’s because there are some clichés that well-earn their familiarity. For example, if overheard conversations, mistaken and assumed identity, and misdirected letters (nowadays more prevalent as lost or stolen e-mail correspondence and hacked computer files) are not fresh enough for your taste in fiction, then the entire suspense/thriller genre probably isn’t either. Alana Woods deploys them all–there’s even a diary–but recombination is everything.

Far more compelling than these stock conventions are the book’s two main characters, David Cameron (you may need a pen handy to keep track of his several aliases,) but more especially Noel Valentine, a heroine worthy of a series–though Woods doesn’t appear to be setting us up for one. Among all of fiction’s many self-made detectives, few are given a motive for their investigations–which lead them into all manner of professional and personal hazard–more credible than simple money. The universal catalyst, serviceable for everyone from Sam Spade to Jim Rockford. Oh, other reasons have been invented among the better writers: egomania for Sherlock Holmes, or the occasional impressment into service (Rick Deckard.) Woods’ David, like Hamlet, was bequeathed the task by his dead father. Good thing for audiences, too–for it doesn’t always wash, that the motives of those seeking truth are the identical ones held by those seeking to cover it up.

For Noel Valentine, the impetus necessary for the pursuit of semi-comatose David’s nearly successful assassins, leading to discovery of several convolutions of corporate wrongdoing, surfaces from the depths of her very plausible, damaged psychology. “Why not go to the police?,” she’s asked at several points, and the answer simply lies outside the realm of logic and reason.

Sure, she wants to ensure the man she dragged from a fiery car wreck heals, she wants a prestigious account at her PR firm, she wants the perks of her boss’ favor. It all makes sense, yet none of it is really accurate. In fact, one of the latent enjoyments of the novel is witnessing how many different misogynistic interpretations of her behavior can be put upon Noel by the old boys’ network, projecting their own malfeasance onto a vulnerable target. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a dirty, double-crossing dame,” says one of the villains of the Hollywood noir classic The Killers, and apparently little has changed in three-quarters of a century. Woods’ heroine must also endure multiple layers of claustrophobic pressure: from the confines of her tiny flat invaded by her healing counterpart, to sexual pressure from her boss and a nefarious client, and finally to the crushing depths of the sea itself.

No, for Noel, investigation is first about living dangerously–perhaps subconsciously attempting to carry out a long-time suicide wish of her own–and later, about simply living. In fact, when the bad guys provide her with the perfect opportunity to slip quietly into that good night, guiltlessly in the world’s eyes and her own, it’s only then can she recover the id-energy to carry on and survive that her efforts on David’s behalf have been attempting to revivify all along. That scene of crucible is worth the price of admission alone, straying so far as it does from the strictures of the genre, and invoking naturalistic archetypes from more high-brow literary fiction like Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and even some Hemingway.

What difficulties there are can be faced down within the first half of the novel, which gathers much steam afterward–though thankfully eschewing many of the predictable action-elements we may expect (no car chases, and just a little obligatory gunplay.) Sex, naturally, plays its role, though not overdone. Woods provides several of her majors with fully stocked families, and various minor characters fill out the cast, necessitating full attention to relationships. As for the geography, the locales of Cairns and Sydney, while well-described, may feel less familiar to non-Australian readers than we’d like. However, it’s exactly this transportation of time, place, and generally stretching beyond the constricting neighborhood of the known-comfortable, among landscapes ranging to the deep psychic, that many will appreciate most.

Review by Shawn StJean ( )
  stjean | Dec 20, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0957976712, Paperback)

'I was so captivated I didn't want to put it down.'

What a buzz I got when I read that lead to a 5 star review.  Here's more from that reviewer:

'Ms Woods has the rare gift of painting vivid, action-packed pictures with her words. I was there with the characters, smelling the ocean, feeling the sun, hearing the waves ... '

So, what's the story about?  Here's a taste:

Noel Valentine--what's in her past that impels her to save a stranger's life knowing that it could endanger hers?
In hot tropical Australia she pulls a stranger from a burning car but can't save his passenger.
When the stranger shows up back in her home town of Sydney and asks for a place to stay, why does she agree? Especially given he could have been an assassin hired to kill his passenger. Especially given that she's pitching to win as a client the medical technology company that seems to be central to whatever is going on. A company that both assassin and victim had connections with. A company with questionable markets and equally questionable front men.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:55 -0400)

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