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Good story spoiled by way too many characters & subplots ...
on July 9, 2002
We've felt the same way after all four of M.J. Clark's four novels of mystery and suspense set in the interesting venue of "Key News", no doubt a knock-off of CBS News where our author toils in real life. Her stories are invariably entertaining and suspenseful, even though her female leading characters verge on Wonder Women. And one eventually gets used to her one- and two-page (or less!) chapter lengths. But we really don't need three main plots and three sub-plots in one fairly short novel, much less the several dozen characters it takes to populate all those mini-stories.
The tale this time is about Eliza Blake, reprised from Clark's first novel "Do You Want to Know a Secret?", who now anchors the evening news broadcast. Two or more viewers, not to mention some of her co-workers, are taking way too much interest in Blake, leading to three variations of a stalking problem, two different male romances gone awry, and one potential female liaison thrown in for good measure! As before, Eliza is so perfect it's clear she's Clark's vision of a modern, progressive, gorgeous, single female parent on the pedestal personified, which gets just a little tiresome after a while. But even more tiresome is the seemingly endless cast of characters and plot details that only sap strength from the main story.
We've complained loudly about this same "clutter" in MJ's three earlier works. We guess there's just no recourse but too quit now before we invest any more time in an author who otherwise has tremendous potential. Can't an editor do something here?