Customer Reviews: The 37th Hour
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on February 26, 2004
Starting out as a missing person story this debut novel by Jodi Compton slowly evolves into a wonderfully emotional hunt that raises some difficult questions of whether ethics should prevail over grief. It's a story that builds up the momentum until reaching a climax that, although not earth-shattering, unearths a few surprises.
Written in the first person perspective of Sarah Pribek, a detective with the Hennepin County sheriff's office, we meet a capable yet vulnerable woman. The reason for her vulnerability stems from the recent semi-retirement of her partner, mentor and friend Genevieve Brown. Genevieve had recently suffered a mother's worst nightmare when her daughter was raped and murdered. To make matters worse, the man who did it escaped punishment due to a legal technicality, a technicality that Sarah feels responsible for.
But that is just one sub-plot. The other main sub-plot involves her husband Mike Shiloh. Shiloh is also a cop who was working with the Minneapolis Police Department until he was recruited by the FBI. From early on it is established that he and Sarah are very much in love and go out of their way to show how much they care for each other. Which is why Sarah thought it was unusual when Shiloh left for Quantico without so much as a note to say goodbye. By this time it has also been established that Shiloh tends not to do the expected all the time, so Sarah is not particularly concerned.
It's only when the FBI ring to ask why Shiloh hasn't shown up that the alarm bells start to ring. Fortunately, Sarah happens to specialise in finding missing persons and immediately begins to track down his last known movements. What's not so fortunate for her peace of mind is her knowledge of the probability of finding a missing person alive after they've been missing for longer than 36 hours. The tension brought about from searching for her missing husband soon consumes all other thoughts and takes over the mood of the book.
Even though this is first and foremost a mystery story, it's main focus turns out to be about relationships. Starting with the husband and wife relationship displayed by Sarah and Shiloh. Although it appears strong at the start, and indeed it probably is, Sarah soon comes to the realisation that there is much about her husband she doesn't know. The next relationship spotlighted is the friendship forged as fellow police officers by Sarah and Genevieve. But this too is revealed to be fragile as Sarah fells she is unable to supply the support Genevieve needs in her grief. Finally there is a brother / sister relationship that is revealed towards the end of the book that holds secrets from Shiloh's past.
The way the book finished gave me the strong impression that this was the first of a series featuring Sarah Pribek. If this is the case then Jodi Compton will definitely be an author to look out for by readers who like a bit more depth to their characters.
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on March 14, 2004
First, kudos to any author who can get published and Ms. Compton deserves much praise for her writing style and deft plotting devices. I can understand why she was able to sell this series featuring Sarah Pribek -- we quickly care about this character and get involved in her gut-wrenching search for her missing husband.
I will not retread the plot points mentioned in other reviews, but I echo those who were disturbed by the radical change in prose and plot of the second half -- it's as if two different authors were at work. The last fifteen pages are especially weak and forced, as if someone was writing on deadline. I have a feeling these were not the original pages when Ms. Compton first submitted her manuscript. Too much of the final act seemed to be strictly from Pribek's narration afterwards instead of the reader being there as discoveries were made. Things were just a bit too tidy.
This is an author I want to read about two or three books from now because by then she'll be the master of her craft. This first effort shows promise, but also some warts.
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VINE VOICEon May 15, 2005
When Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy Sara Pribek's new husband turns up missing--with his trail cold by at least a day--the Missing Persons expert realizes she has very little time to find him. Thirty six hours and the usual missing persons case goes cold.

Problem is, she scarcely knows her husband of just two months. Mike Shiloh is not well liked on the Minneapolis Police Fore where he works. He doesn't have many friends outside of 'the job' and he's not been in touch with his estranged family in Salt Lake City for many years.

Sara's search for Michael takes her in to a past case and the murder of a fellow detective and friend's daughter. While the trail isn't precisely straightforward, I suspect that makes it even more real. The book definitely has its twists and surprises and is a compelling read throughout.

As the Amazon reviewer said, this is a PROCEDURAL, so it is not for the faint-of-heart or for those looking for toss-away lines and amusing chracters. Sara's work digs into the heart of policework and may well strike some nerves as well. All in all, this is a very promising start for Compton and I will be reading her sequel as soon as I can get my hands on it.
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on January 23, 2004
This first book by a new author got very good reviews in the journals I read, so I gave it a try. From page one, my interest was peaked and I had a hard time putting the book down to go back to work after breaks and lunch time.
The character was believable, her anguish and fears were palpable. Her hunt for the missing husband was a jouney into another person's life that left her wondering if this was really a place she wanted to go.
The ending blew me away. I usually try to pick out the perp, solve the crime, decide the jury outcome, whatever the destination of the novels I read. And I do pretty well. But this one blindsided me. Even with the clues right out front, I still missed the ending.
In my book, that makes a great author. If you stump me, I will read you again.
I hope this author does write more novels. I'd like to see more of Sarah, and how she evolves after this incident, but I'm not sure that path is open.
Good luck to Jodi Compton, and to anyone who picks this book up, be sure you have nothing planned for the next few hours. This is one that will keep you up past your bedtime.
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VINE VOICEon March 1, 2007
I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and I really enjoyed THE 37TH HOUR. This novel, and its sequel SYMPATHY BETWEEN HUMANS, received mostly positive reviews but have largely been overlooked by the public. This is unfortunate, because Compton is a genuinely good writer. I found this book to be highly absorbing and the characters very interesting. If you enjoy character-based novels, this is a fine choice.

I suppose the problem with this novel is the main character, detective Sara Pribek. This character is complex and flawed, and I suspect many readers will have problems relating to her thoughts and behaviors. I know that some readers find her annoying, but I ultimately found her quite human and sympathetic. This is also a novel filled with flashbacks, which I normally find problematic, but I thought this book employed them in a highly effective manner.

A lot of this book deals with marriage and why couple come together, and how little a husband and wife can actually know about each other. In the end, this novel is about the Detective investigating her husband's past, and learning a few things about herself along the way. I thought the plotline was unique and very well done.

THE 37th HOUR does not have a conventional ending, but many of the loose plot threads of this book are resolved in the sequel, SYMPATHY BETWEEN HUMANS, which I thought was equally good (you must read these novels in order to enjoy them correctly).

It seems like there won't be any further books in this series, which is a shame. I hope Compton continues writing crime fiction; I would like to see some of her future work. If given the chance, I think she could be just as good as some of the best crime writers out there.
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VINE VOICEon February 29, 2004
Although this novel does not achieve what the publisher claims in the dust jacket, a thriller impossible to put down, it is clear to me that the writer has talent and will probably deliver a much better work given another chance.
Sarah Pribeck is a detective that cares about her job, finding missing persons. She has been out of a partner since Genevieve's daughter was raped and murdered and the killer got away on a technicality. Genevieve is having a really tough time dealing with her daughter's loss and Sarah finds herself disoriented when her husband, Shiloh, disappears on the weekend he was supposed to travel to Quantico, to start the FBI program as a new trainee. Through the first moments of the search we realize how important Genevieve is to Sarah, since the latter keeps going back to the tips and recommendations the former provided in the past. With the time running against her and without being able to convince Genevieve to help, Sarah finds herself taking a plunge into Shiloh's past in the search for clues to solve the mysterious disappearance, finding a myriad of things she did not know about the man she has been married to for two months.
There are several things that Compton does astoundingly well; for example the description of the characters and their emotions. I also find interesting the fact that the author focuses on creating a thriller with no romantic undertones; one can get tired of the formula used by many in which a female heroine is drawn to a "strong male" in the setting of a mystery thriller. Where I find a major flaw is in the way that the story is structured, the action keeps stopping for long intervals to go back to events from the past, which in my opinion severely cuts the intensity the book has. With the quality of her writing and the good development of the characters, the author can reach much higher heights that the one she achieved in this first novel.
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on August 21, 2009
I have a mixed relationship with mysteries. I enjoy them, but I've read so many that I barely have to read the middle on most mysteries. I start, read a chapter or two, roll my eyes, skip to the end, and discover, whoa, I was right, I know exactly who did the crime, and how, and why. It takes a real story to keep me reading.

In this book, I was maybe three chapters in, at most, when I knew the plot line. So I skipped to the end. And said, hmmm. And went back to where I left off. Not only did I not know the plot line, I didn't know the characters.

Yet with every word I read, they felt more and more real to me, more like people that I might I have met, known in real life, the kind of complex, hard to understand, mixed up people that reality is filled with and fiction is direly short of (at least if you avoid reading truly depressing books and mostly stick with genres that have happy endings.)

There's a moment at the end of the book when the heroine realizes that life--that people--are not what she expected, and that she herself, the "wide-open" girl, is not who she thought she was. I've had that moment in my life (although no murders came with it). I am really impressed with a genre book that can encompass that kind of reality and still be a darn good story. If I had a kindle, I'd download the next one immediately. As it is, I'm almost tempted to buy a kindle just so that if this ever happens again, I'm prepared.
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on February 24, 2004
I had heard good things about this book so I was anxious to read it. I really wouldn't consider it a mystery, more of a fiction type of book. It started out really well and about halfway into it, I thought I had figured out what happened. But towards the end, it all fell apart. The ending felt rushed compared to the rest of the book and the way it ended kind of left you hanging. What I thought happened did not, but I almost wish I was right compared to what really occurred. There is a very disturbing plot twist right at the end that caught me by surprise. I was disappointed in the ending and I'm not really sure if I would read the next one in the series.
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on February 2, 2004
I really liked the beginning of the book and the characters especially Shiloh and Sarah. I thought that there was a lot of potential for the characters and future stories lines. But then the author fell apart in the last third of the book. (Sigh) it was really very disappointing. The other reviews mentioned " true mystery, tension weaving writing and a thriller" of a book. I was disappointed at the quick resolves that came out of no where and then thrown in was some disgusting unnecessary twists that cheapened the characters that the author created. The values that made them good police detectives in the beginning of the 37th hour, is not found at the end thus makes it hard for a interesting followup book in the future. To be honest there was very little detective work was done in this novel. Eh, maybe it wasn't intended to be a mystery or detective story...the author needs to read about Elvis Cole and Joe Pike; Lucas Davenport to see what good mystery and detective writing is about.
The ending was so sad and poorly put together that I am not sure I care enough about the characters to read another story, thinking I might get cheated out of a good story and be depressed about spending so much money on a hardbound book.
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on June 9, 2016
I am particularly pleased about the ending. The job of a police officer is very dangerous and the motive for becoming a police officer is in f some cases a religious background because becauseit is through the religious teaching at a young age that the police officer has developed the strong s ense of justice. However unfortunately when the police officer is confronted with the bad element in society the police officer may go beyond the limits of justice. because the bad element in society sometimes manipulates the law and when crime novelists are given access to files by Police Departments in order to develop plots the crime novelist is faced with the problem of not repeating a factual account in which police officers may be recognised as of having broken the law.So. Compton ends her novel in a way in which the reputation of police officers is maintained even though they have broken the law.
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