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Who Killed Love Paperback – July 15, 2013
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About the Author
Don Scribner was born and raised in northern Wisconsin (Ashland) and now resides in Burbank, CA. His career began in education and segued into the arts. An accomplished actor and writer, he’s appeared in numerous films and his plays have been produced in a variety of locales. Discover his film and television credits on www.donscribner.com or on www.imdb.com.
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Top customer reviews
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1) I have known Don for many years, since we appeared together in an independent feature film, and we have remained close friends since that project; and
2) I do not particularly enjoy murder mysteries.
That said, Don’s book came out just as I was preparing to leave for a well-deserved, long delayed vacation to the north shore of Kaua’i so I took it with me to be my beach read for the week. I am so glad I did. My plans each day included time excitedly spent reading to find out how Harlan “Harley” Saltz, the protagonist, was getting along. I did not find that any of the tropes of dead body detective novels was followed so the book unwound for me as a close examination of an artist’s life in N. Hollywood. The streets, the people, the close proximity of fabulous wealth and celebrity with the more day-to-day economic existence of those who, drawn to Hollywood’s magic kingdom, struggle to attain their entry across the moat and into Beverly Hills, this was the fabric of the novel.
Being with Harley was like being with a good friend whose insight into life is both entertaining and enlightening. I know well the life he was leading and can say that his observations ring true. His passions for life and love fuel his artistic efforts. Harley’s songs, poems, screenplays and novel all serve as an outlet for his innermost feelings. Who out there has not seen a deeply loving relationship fail for reasons that cannot be controlled or countered? Who out there has not turned for help to friendships so close that communication is almost telepathic? Who out there has not faced a fear of dancing and fought off self-consciousness and fear of failure to master the two-step? That’s Harley’s world. And Harley’s world collapses around him with the apparently senseless murder of the most important person in his life.
My week with Harley introduced me to great characters who I would wish to call my friends and numerous situations that I would have wished to share with the characters. I was not just “into” the novel, I was in it. That’s what I want books I invest time in to do, suck me in and keep me turning the pages. WHO KILLED LOVE makes me think that I should find other mysteries that break the rules of the genre and that expose the lives and hearts of characters that I would like to know. I thank Don for this insight and the great vacation read.
Scribner was able to elevate a simple story into a GREAT book due to his power as a wordsmith. Scribner's language
beams. I hated to stop reading and didn't want visitors. I was walking in the shoes of a protagonist who defines
depth, Harlan Saltz. I could taste his joy and touch his pain.
WHO KILLED LOVE impressed me so much it is my gift(s) to family and friends. WHO KILLED LOVE belongs on the
New York Times Bestseller List.
WHO KILLED LOVE is a MUST read!
And a mystery he solved along the way.
It's about a woman.
The kind you can't forget about.
Even when your friends tell you to try harder.
It's about discovering the hard facts of life in So Cal...
That some of the best actors aren't in S.A.G.
This is for readers who like their novels like their drinks -
Straight and on the rocks, and if you try to add a lemon slice...
I might just have to come behind the bar and break your arm.
It's that kind of book.
The story is narrated in the first person by the main character, Harlan Saltz, and one senses there’s much of the author in Harlan since both hail from Wisconsin and moved to L.A. to pursue writing after careers in educational counseling back home. Reading the book synopsis at Amazon, which I encourage readers to do and which I assume was written by the author, and then reading the book I was also struck by the similarity between the author’s voice and Harlan’s.
Writing a novel is no easy or simple matter and anyone who does is to be recognized for the accomplishment. Writing a first person narrative presents its own challenges and whether it’s Melville’s Ishmael in MOBY-DICK, Kerouac’s Sal Paradise in ON THE ROAD or Scribner’s Harlan in WHO KILLED LOVE the storyteller must engage readers at the outset and sustain their interest until story’s end. Melville and Kerouac were able to do this but it wasn’t until well into Scribner’s book that I found myself becoming truly interested in the story and being swept along by Harlan’s narrative. This has as much to do with the story’s structure as it does Harlan’s character and voice.
Love is all-important to Harlan and he aches for his lost love, Teri. He’s a Hemingwayesque character who pounds a heavy bag hanging in his apartment and jogs places rather than walks; a sensitive, introspective, moody, philosophizing type who comments on everything that pops into his head but whose observations about things, for as much depth and importance as Scribner tries to give them, often come across as pedestrian and sometimes obtuse. He’s much better as a narrator when the murder mystery aspect of the story begins in earnest, which it does halfway through the book, and he does less reflecting and commenting about life as he describes the action.
Which brings me to the story’s structure. The first half of the book has mostly to do with Harlan reluctantly attending Teri’s wedding to another man at her invitation; his relationship with Melanie, a bartender at The Ranch, a local cowboy bar he frequents; and his desire for Missy, a woman who also frequents the place and who Harlan finds heavenly but dubs “Miss Thank You But No Thank You” when she politely refuses his offer to dance. Since it’s mentioned in the book synopsis, I’m not giving anything away by saying that Teri is murdered and that Harlan hears this news from his private detective friend Whitey while visiting him in Las Vegas. This happens a third of the way through the story and for the first time my interest was piqued and I was ready for the murder mystery to unfold. Oddly, Scribner chooses not to seize the opportunity to build momentum at this point and capitalize on the reader’s expectation but leaves the murder mystery aspect of the story still somewhere off in the future.
Scribner is a talented writer and his best and most sensitive writing in WHO KILLED LOVE occurs when Harlan is interacting with others. Scribner does a good job with Harlan and Melanie’s flirtatiousness and verbal jousting at the bar as their relationship develops and also with Harlan and Missy’s cautiousness as they inch their way along in theirs. Scribner also does a good job of capturing the love men who are close friends and have known each other a long time have for each other, as he does with Harlan and Whitey who grew up together in Wisconsin. When the murder mystery aspect of the story kicks in Scribner’s narrative hits full stride and from that point on it’s a fast-paced read and the momentum never falters.
There’s a good story in Who Killed Love but Scribner makes the reader work and sometimes hard to get to it. The two biggest criticisms of indie publication are that the writing is self-indulgent and the quality of the finished product unprofessional. WHO KILLED LOVE suffers from a bit of both. I’m a forgiving reader but I found there to be too much of Harlan’s musing in the first half of the book and too many typos, uses of incorrect words (i.e., the repeated use of “discrete” where “discreet” is indicated, etc.), missing quotation marks and the like throughout. The book is designated the “First Edition”, again, presumably by the author, which leads one to believe that Scribner is open to revision. I hope so. It’s never too late to improve upon a book and WHO KILLED LOVE would benefit greatly from the services of an editor and a proofreader.
All of which is this reviewer’s opinion. Again, I encourage you to look inside the book. As I say, there’s a good story here and you might find yourself captivated from the outset, in which case you are in for a thoroughly enjoyable read.