“Pretty” Rhode Island: The Sculptor, Gregory Funaro
ISBN 0786022124 (ISBN13: 9780786022120)
Part of the Mysteries from Every State Challenge
This is the kind of book where the idea was better than the actual story.
“The Sculptor” is a serial killer who disposes of his victims to replicate famous statues by Michelangelo by using real body parts for his creations. Being the “foremost Michelangelo authority in the world” (a little heavy-handed), Brwon University professor, Cathy Hildebrant, is brought in as a consultant for the FBI.
While the premise was interesting, the novel does not seem to gain traction and run with the creepy foundation. While the idea is good, it doesn’t come across clearly, necessitating pages and pages of explanation in the form of conversation between Hildebrant and FBI agent Sam Markham. Sometimes writers manage to keep endless pages of explanation interesting, but in this novel, it feels like so much explanation stunts the flow of the story rather than move it along.
However, what made me want to put this book down repeatedly is that the author uses “pretty art history professor” to refer to Hildebrant a total of nine times in the novel (thank you Kindle search). I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but by the third “pretty art history professor,” I wanted to put the book down and scream. The only reason I didn’t stop reading was because I wanted to finish this book for the Mysteries from Every State Challenge.
The whole thing made me feel like a high school English professor; if you want to get across that Hildebrant is pretty, “show me, don’t tell me.” I also felt that the repetition that she was pretty was too much. We got that she was pretty from the first “pretty art history professor.” As the phrase was drilled into my head repeatedly by the writer, I felt like I was watching a bad episode of the TV show “Bones,” where the producers try to drill in your head that the main character is a knockout when she is really just attractive but nothing to write home about.
In the acknowledgements, the author thanks his friends and family for reading his manuscript and helping him “iron out a lot of the wrinkles.” Did nobody mention the repetition of “pretty art history professor” or the rambling pages of explanation? Maybe you shouldn’t let just your friends and family read your manuscript…
Other than that, I felt the love story portion of the book was forced and corny. Sometimes a good story doesn’t need the love story aspect, and when this happens, it just takes away from the plot.
As far as “the Sculptor,” he was also an unbelievable character, and by the end, very predictable.
Finally, since I read this book to get a feel for Rhode Island, most—if not all—of the characters are white, rich and educated. So like the “pretty” Hildebrant, I didn’t really get much in the way of description of the state.
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