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Red Leaves by Paullina Simons
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Red Leaves

by Paullina Simons

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382928,205 (3.3)19

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I was intrigued by the description of Red Leaves by Paullina Simons...

"In the tradition of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes a suspenseful thriller from the international bestselling author of The Bronze Horseman—an utterly captivating story about four Ivy League students whose bizarre friendship leads to a twisted maze of secrets, lies, betrayal, and murder."

Sounds good right? Kristina is a star basketball player for Dartmouth. We meet her and her four friends playing a pick up game. There's an odd dynamic between the four from the opening chapters - not what you would expect of friends. Kristina leaves as the game is over to make an appointment with a Howard. Again, a very odd dynamic and a reveal. (I'm not going to spoil it in case you plan to read this book.) More oddness - Kristina happens to catch the eye of a police detective as she flounces around without a coat in the cold. (Much is made of her going without warm clothing throughout the book.) The cop's behaviour is not believable at all. Or is Kristina's or anyone else's for that matter.

So, part one is a (repetitive) rehash of the relationship between the four, both past and present that seems to go on and on. I grew tired of the enigmatic, evasive and mysterious circumstances of their friendships, the philosophical wordplay and bantering. (Stop here if you are going to read Red Leaves - spoiler ahead. I can't help it) Part two finds Kristina dead. And guess who's in charge. Yes, that detective. His police work is slipshod and so far removed from actual police procedure that it's laughable. (More spoiling....at one point he has about a dozen Saturday night specials (guns) in his trunk that he hasn't turned in yet from a bust two or three weeks ago.)

Okay, so the murder is (poorly) investigated. But along with that, every character cannot remember or later (two years in one case) admits they lied. This felt like a very convenient plot device much of the time. And the book continued on long after it should have ended. (The whodunit is not surprising)

I found the writing choppy, stilted and clumsy. That comparison made to Secret History the publisher made? Nope, not even close.

What I subsequently discovered was that Red Leaves was originally published in 1996. I'm sure that Simons' work has become more polished as she has since written thirteen more bookS since Red Leaves and garnered much praise. Sorry to say, but this book was a (big) miss for me. ( )
  Twink | Apr 28, 2017 |
I really had a difficult time getting through this book. The reason I chose it was that it was compared to Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History”. There is no comparison other than the fact that the book involves a group of college friends. There were several times when I wished I could just DNR this book but since I received a free copy from the publisher, I felt obligated to read the whole book in order to review it. Apparently, this book was published by St. Martin’s in 1996 but has been out of print for many years and now William Morrow is re-publishing five of the author’s books over the next three years. The author has received awards for her work so maybe it’s just me.

This story involves a young woman, Kristina Kim, and her very convoluted relationships with Connie, Jim and Albert. You know from the media’s blurbs that Kristina is going to be murdered. She’s the narrator in the first section of the book, which consists mostly of repetitive conversations between the four “friends” about this one loves that one and that one loves this one and that one is cheating and that one wants the relationship to end, over and over and over again. At one point, Kristina meets a policeman, Spencer O’Malley, with whom she has a flirtation. It’s O’Malley who is assigned her murder investigation and he’s determined to find her killer.

There were so many times throughout this book when I thought “What??” Conversations were consistently a bit off, contradictory, stilted and unrealistic. Events just didn’t fit together for me. I didn’t find the end big reveal that shocking. I did enjoy a few small sections of the book but then it would fall apart for me again. I feel the story wasn’t a bad one but it was very poorly written. My apologies to the publisher and author but truly, this book isn’t on par with “The Secret History” and shouldn’t be compared to it as it’s misleading.

This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review. ( )
  hubblegal | Mar 15, 2017 |
The book didn't really get going until page 150. This is too long to set the plot and characters. After that, however, the book got better with an interesting twist to a murder mystery.
A friend who loaned me this book highly recommended Tully by the same author. ( )
  GeneHunter | Mar 13, 2016 |
A college girl has been found dead in snow near a New England college campus.

Why have none of her friends reported her missing? What are they holding back from Detective Spencer O’Malley who is assigned to the case? He delves into their secrets, their lies and the mystery of the complex relationships between them all, Jim, Conni, Albert and Kristina.

I couldn’t wait to start this book as my reading hasn’t been very ‘on the edge’ lately and needed something to sink my teeth into and this book didn’t disappoint. A rapid start to the book but the pace slowed down until the dialogue between certain characters got a bit tedious, however it wasn’t until later in the book I could see that character communication was essential to the story. I thought the story was slightly predictable in places in a ‘whodunnit’ kind of way. There’s always a character who’s not quite telling the truth or some evidence has been overlooked. It didn’t deflect from the story though, it was interesting how the story unfolded with a few surprises along the way.

The characters Jim, Kristina, Connie and Albert all had traits which annoyed me slightly, I loved Spencer O’Malley though, a tough guy who’s been through tradegy himself, a character who I found intruiging and who I felt comfortable reading about.

Highly recommended. ( )
  welshy72 | Oct 24, 2010 |
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At Greenwich Point Park, where the saltwater air from Long Island Sound fused with the earthy smell of fallen leaves, two children climbed stairs leading to what once was a castle.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312962258, Mass Market Paperback)

Everyone at Dartmoth College knows Kristina Kim, Conni Tobias, Albert Maplethorpe and Jim Shaw. Attractive, intelligent and poised for brilliant futures, they are campus elite, and ever since freshman years, they've been inseparable--almost like family. Led by the beautiful, spirited and enigmatic Kristina, they share an intimacy others envy.

But it is more than camaraderie that unites the friends. Dark and seductive secrets bind the four to one another--intense passions and simmering tensions that have been building for years. When those passions finally explode the dead of a bitter cold night, a brutal act will be committed--one that will reveal shocking truths about each of them...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When beautiful, star basketball player Kristina Kim is found murdered in the snow, Spencer O'Malley, the young detective who had fallen in love with her, has to investigate the crime. What he finds is a life more mysterious than her death.

» see all 3 descriptions

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