Almost a Crime
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2007
I consider myself to be a big Penny Vincenzi fan. I was so addicted to her "spoils of time" trilogy that I had read it twice in the span of three years. This is saying a lot for me, since I don't read books more than once unless they are really that good. That's why I hate to be negative about one of her latest books. "Almost a Crime" did not grab my attention from the beginning. It was hard to follow the story since it lacked excitement and characters were not very believable. Maybe a huge part of my disappointment had to do with the fact that it is set in the 1990s and lacks the nostalgic charm of No Angel, Something Dangerous, and Into Temptations. I'm still a big fan of Penny vincenzi but not of this particular book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2002
This story is about this perfect couple, Octavia and Tom Flemming who have a marriage made in heaven. Society looks up to this attractive and golden couple; in fact everyone does. Well heeled they both are and in prominent positions to boot.But that's until the cookie crumbles and Tom begins to have a torrid and steamy affair, putting his wife through so much embarassment, sickness and paranoia, she can hardly bear to leave the house. And look who he is having the affair with? There is betrayal amongst friends and this obviously affects the couple's professional lives interferring with their wealthy status . This book is a stunner with its variety of characters.....especially the ladies....some plain though interesting all the same, while others are attractive and rather hoity toity. The big question however is will this marriaage between this golden couple survive??? Another good one from Penny Vincenzi....go for it. You love it and won't be satisfied until you've found out whodunnit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2006
I became a fan of Penny Vincenzi when No Angel was released in the states and have been reading her books ever since. Almost A Crime is her first US release after the Spoils Of Time trilogy.

Londoners Tom and Octavia Fleming had what seemed to be the perfect high power marriage. They complimented each others careers while juggling their personal lives but it all came to an abrupt end when Octavia found out that Tom was having an affair. Octavias father, who never liked Tom was pushing her to leave him, Toms business started to fail due to financial problems and then Octavia found out who the other woman was and then everything started falling apart.

For those of you who love a book that you can sink your teeth into, Almost A Crime is the perfect choice for your next read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2001
This story is about this perfect couple, Octavia and Tom Flemming who have a marriage made in heaven. Society looks up to this attractive and golden couple; in fact everyone does. Well heeled they both are and in prominent positions to boot.But that's until the cookie crumbles and Tom begins to have a torrid and steamy affair, putting his wife through so much embarassment, sickness and paranoia, she can hardly bear to leave the house. And look who he is having the affair with? There is betrayal amongst friends and this obviously affects the couple's professional lives interferring with their wealthy status . This book is a stunner with its variety of characters.....especially the ladies....some plain though interesting all the same, while others are attractive and rather hoity toity. The big question however is will this marriaage between this golden couple survive??? Another good one from Penny Vincenzi....go for it. You love it and won't be satisfied until you've found out whodunnit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
This was my first foray into the work of Penny Vincenzi and now I am not sure whether to further the acquaintance. I did somewhat enjoy the story for a few hundred pages at least. But, it did go on so! On and on and on. Since I rarely give up on a book I ended up skimming this one just to get it over with. It even seemed the author had rushed to finish writing it.
While initially the characters provoked *some* interest, it wasn't sustained through to the end. It was hard to care about whether Octavia and Tom would save their marriage, especially considering they never developed into particularly likable characters. Octavia was shallow and humorless, Tom a cheater and lobbyist, both were neglectful parents. It seems bizarre to write *such* a long book about people who were neither sympathetic, nor even especially interesting. That said, several storylines *were quite* skillfully woven together, but the most suspenseful plot lines (With whom was Tom cheating? and Would Romilly emerge unscathed from her modeling adventures?) were concluded halfway through.
Still, Nico Cadogan was an appealingly written character; I imagined him as a young Peter O'Toole. Sandy and little Dickon were certainly pitiable. But Louise was a bit hard to believe; it veered into bad daytime soap-opera there.
Still, this wasn't meant to be a work of great literature, so enough with the grousing.
Impressively, at 627 pages Almost A Crime is a quick read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tom and Octavia Fleming are described by the media as a power couple. Attractive, wealthy, and poised on the cusp of a glorious future, neither of them is at all prepared for the events that blindside them.

Seemingly out of nowhere, an affair between Tom and a woman he refuses to name, catapults the two of them into a series of horrific scenarios that impact their personal and business lives.

Almost a Crime is a richly textured tale that feels as though it encompasses a vast period of time, but it really only spans a few months in the year 1997. Set in London, in the months preceding the shocking death of Princess Diana (in August), we watch as the rippling effects of Tom's affair circle out and touch everyone in their charmed circle.

Vincenzi's writing style takes the reader through a series of increasingly suspenseful vignettes, sharing a few morsels about each character, gradually revealing bits and pieces until we cannot stop reading and flipping pages, wanting to know more. Hints, clues, teasers--all lead to the dangerous events that will unravel gradually, reaching a crescendo of operatic proportions. Just when we thought that everything had finally revealed itself, we are stunned by another staggering blow.

How does the identity of Tom's mistress inform the lives of those around him? How do the machinations of Octavia's father add to the mix? Will Tom and Octavia finally resolve their differences, or will more and more complications arise for them? And how does an issue that threatens the land around Bartles Woods bring another layer of intrigue and suspense to the characters?

A wonderfully captivating novel full of enough detail to bring the reader right into the midst of the characters' lives, I could not put this one down...Despite its length. I'm giving this one five stars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2006
For years, Penny Vincenzi has been a bestselling author of huge blockbuster novels in her native England. Recently, the Overlook Press has brought Vincenzi's talent to the United States with the publication of her popular Spoils of Time trilogy, gaining her fans on this side of the Atlantic as well. Now Overlook is releasing some of Vincenzi's other smash hits for her new American fans, starting with ALMOST A CRIME, which was originally published in the United Kingdom in 1999.

The central character of ALMOST A CRIME is Octavia Fleming, mother of three and wife to Tom Fleming. The two of them have the textbook "power marriage," written up in national newspapers under the heading "Combine and Rule." Octavia runs a charity consulting group, procuring funds and providing publicity for charity groups. Tom is the co-founder of a political lobbying firm. At the novel's opening, readers see how the two combine their successful careers in ways that are mutually beneficial for themselves --- and for their companies. Sometimes, though, Tom's dubious business scruples run afoul of Octavia's moral sensibilities, such as when Tom urges Octavia to use her charity connections to raise support for a new development (run by one of Tom's clients) set to be built in a wilderness area.

These professional disagreements are merely window dressing for their deeper personal problems, which quickly come to a crisis. Tom has always felt a bit cowed by Octavia's hugely successful father, who has never made a secret of his disapproval of Tom. Both Tom and Octavia feel like they never have enough time to spend with their children, let alone with each other --- at least without clients around. But, to make matters far worse, Octavia soon learns that Tom has been having an affair.

Devastated by her discovery, Octavia resorts to personal and professional revenge. She makes a very public statement against one of Tom's biggest clients and begins her own relationship with a member of parliament, a man who is Tom's polar opposite in politics, manner and attitude. Octavia also confides in her closest, oldest friend Louise, who is quietly nursing her own grief --- and might be hiding more than a few secrets of her own.

Octavia's biggest dilemma is whether to pursue a divorce from Tom. If she were anyone but the female half of the country's premier "power couple," the choice would be easy. But, for someone like Octavia Fleming, the decision is far more complicated: "Their marriage would not be broken neatly and cleanly, nobody's was of course, but theirs would be a multiple fracture, more messily painful even than most, crossing as they constantly did the lines of public and private life. They would become not only single people, but famously unsuccessful ones, would no longer effortlessly straddle two worlds, but would scarcely stand on the top of one; their association and their marriage would be no longer powerful, it would be a public as well as a private failure." Not even Octavia, though, recognizes the repercussions the end of her marriage could have on everyone around her --- friends, family and business associates alike.

It's this ever-widening circle that Vincenzi so skillfully encompasses in ALMOST A CRIME. As in her previous novels, she practically defines the term "page turner," as she shifts rapidly from subplot to subplot, from character to character, effectively discouraging readers from putting down the book until they find out what happens next. From Octavia's father, his mistress and her children, to Octavia's friend Louise and her husband, Vincenzi deftly moves among her characters over the course of one eventful summer, leading up to the news of Princess Diana's death, which affects all the characters in one way or another.

ALMOST A CRIME may be a slight disappointment to readers who first met Vincenzi through the Spoils of Time trilogy, since it lacks the sweeping epic scope and probing character development that marked those magnificent novels. However, it should still contain enough characters, plot twists and subplots to satisfy most --- in fact, some American readers might be rather perplexed by the references to British politics, class distinctions and school systems. Nevertheless, Vincenzi's latest novel to cross the pond is likely to solidify her reputation for writing ambitious, glamorous novels that take readers deep into their characters' fascinating lives.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2007
I first became familiar with Penny Vincenzi in the London airport. I grabbed two of her books because the front looked interesting. Since then I have bought everything she has written, even going so far as to have them picked up for me there by an exchange student. I love, love all her books and hate to come to the end of them. I love that they are thick and she writes in detail aout all her characters. Do not pass up any and all she writes.
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on March 31, 2015
For an extended review of this book and more, please visit http://fortheloveoftheread.blogspot.com

This book was quite a time investment. At over 600 pages and with small font, there was a lot of story to devour, but it was all worth it.

My favorite thing about this book is that there are no supporting characters. Each character is a main character. While the blurb leads the reader to think the focus is on Octavia and Tom, this doesn't always ring true. Often other characters' tales are so entwined that they, too, become central to the story. The time and thought that was put into making each character matter and building their history and store is astounding, and this author did that extremely well.

Another thing I liked about this book is that the climax the reader might expect (Octavia finding out about Tom's affair) happens fairly early on in the book. Instead of that being the focus, the author focuses on how the relationship is affected, including how this affair affects other characters in the book. The reader gets to see how each character responds and in what ways it changes everything.

The length of this book is the only thing that might be considered a downside. Because it's so long, there are parts of the story that don't move at the same pace as other parts. While I didn't feel like this detracted from the story, it does mean that the reader has to commit.

Overall, I thought this book was beautifully written. Characters were well-crafted, and the story moves along at a proper pace. If you're looking for a book that you can really devote yourself to, I think this is a good choice. I'm very much looking forward to other books by this author.
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on August 26, 2014
This book is not nearly as fun to read as her others. The characters never really come alive and I can't relate to any of them Lots of boring conversations about business deals and the ladies seem artificial. She missed the boat on this novel but I always love reading any story that takes place in London or the English countryside. I am halfway through and will finish it but it has been a slow read for me. It is nice for me to read and picture the many places I have visited in England.
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