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Misled by reviews, disappointed
on September 9, 2012
I bought "Death On A High Floor: A Legal Thriller" because of the reviews I read and because I was impressed with the author's background and credentials.
I write the following not to slam Rosenberg, but to warn potential readers so they will not be disappointed like I was. Plus, if you're not holding Rosenberg's book up against such a high standard, maybe it will read better right off the bat.
I read not one, but several reviews comparing Rosenberg's book to Scott Turow, John Grisham, and Michael Connelly. At least at this point in his career, Rosenberg doesn't come close to any of them, especially my favorite, Scott Turow.
Turow is both a gifted writer, and skilled at plotting and conveying legal and courtroom mysteries and drama. His characters are as real to you as the people in your own life, and he's got a rare talent for showing human frailties and flaws. Unfortunately, these are not talents that Rosenberg can claim at this point.
I almost quit reading the book 30% of the way into it (Kindle book) for a number of reasons: 1) The writing itself is pretty bad. There are so many incomplete sentences that I began to think the author thought it was a writing style. (I recommend reading "Sin and Syntax," by Constance Hale - you have to know the rules before you can break them!) Copious copy-editing mistakes, from mixing up the characters' names numerous times to simple punctuation. On top of that, three times during the book Rosenberg (through the main character, written in first person) criticizes another character's grammar! The irony! One of the only times I laughed during the book. The writing itself made for tedious reading, at least for me, and that was before I even got to the story.
The story was very loose, and I felt like it was about to unravel at any time. I couldn't decide if the author meant for his main characters to be stupid, and make repeated illogical decisions, or not. After a while, I started wondering if the author wasn't too bright, because his characters continued to make completely inane decisions, time after time. A 60 yr. old lawyer, supposedly very successful, experienced (36 yrs.), savvy and smart consistently makes the wrong decisions every time he's presented with choices, and worse, the explanation each time is along the lines of, "I don't know" or "Just because" or "That's what I felt like even if it was dumb." I know a lot of teenagers who do better than that! He's been accused of murder, but this is how he behaves, and then his lawyers aren't much better. I've enjoyed books in which the main character is greatly flawed, or I just really didn't like him/her, but I finally came to the conclusion in this book that it must be the AUTHOR I didn't like.
For some reason I did finish the book. I always need to know how a book ends, even if I'm sure I have it figured out. Rosenberg improved somewhat, and managed to draw his story together about 60% into the book. "Who-did-it" wasn't a surprise, but he added a few elements to the "why" that I hadn't figured out, which was nice. Since this was his first novel, hopefully his next one can start out "pulled together" and I'm sure it will be better than his first.