book review: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James





THE BOOK OF COLD CASES by Simon St. James
★★☆☆☆
Berkley, March 2022





I think in a better mood I could have enjoyed this book a bit more, but I also firmly believe I would not consider this a good book under any circumstances. I really admired St. James’s The Broken Girls and was hoping for a similarly gripping paranormal thriller here, but I thought The Book of Cold Cases was largely a slog. The first half of the book drags, the twist is revealed early on and it’s easy to guess even earlier on, the paranormal element doesn’t dovetail with the mystery well enough to really justify its inclusion, and the whole premise is predicated on detectives having overlooked a painfully obvious link during a very high-profile murder case. And where I thought that Shea was a well constructed character, I felt that the way her trauma and eventual recovery was rendered was a bit overly simplistic. Anyway, if you like your paranormal thrillers heavy on tedious domestic drama, for whatever reason, this will be the book for you; otherwise, it’s just a bit of a flop. St. James can do better.

Women’s Prize 2022 Longlist Reaction

Well, the longlist has been announced, and I am underwhelmed. But before we get into that, here it is:

Some stats to start off with—as always, let me know if you spot any errors:

UK: 4
US: 6
New Zealand: 1
New Zealand/Australia: 1
US/Canada: 1
Trinidad: 1
Turkey: 1
Jamaica/UK: 1

White authors: 8
Authors of color: 8

5 debuts

I got 2 predictions correct: Great Circle and This One Sky Day.

I’ve only read one book: Great Circle, 4 stars.

Here’s where I usually go through the books one at a time and give you a reaction per title, but honestly I can’t be bothered, because half of these books I’d never even heard of until today, and the ones I had heard of, I hadn’t been particularly interested in reading. After reading through all of these summaries, nothing really leaps out at me either. So, here’s what I’m thinking…

Will prioritize: Build Your House Around My Body, Salt Lick because I got roped into a group read, Sorrow and Bliss, Creatures of Passage

Maybe: Remote Sympathy, The Book of Form and Emptiness, The Bread the Devil Knead, The Exhibitionist, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, The Island of Missing Trees, The Paper Palace, This One Sky Day

Probably not: Flamingo, Careless, The Sentence

This list just feels bland and commercial and uninspiring to me, on the whole. That said, it’s much more diverse than last year’s list, so that’s the good news. And who knows, maybe there will be a couple of hidden gems in here.

How do you guys feel about this year’s longlist?